A Common Space/Community: two comics from the Stories from the Future project

With the pandemic still at the forefront of everyone’s minds, it’s vital for marginalised artists to share spaces to breathe, connect and re-envision equity beyond current arts structures and lead arts legacies. The Stories from the Future project from Diversity Arts Australia has gathered creatives, arts workers and cultural leaders of First Nations, migrant and refugee backgrounds to share their visions outside of confining systems.

Safdar Ahmed and Zeinab Mir of The Refugee Art Project are two of the participating artists. Their works re-frame solidarity and cultural safety in the rebuilding of the arts sector, and we’re pleased to be able to present two of them to Overland’s readers today.

Of his comic, entitled Community, Safdar Ahmed says: ‘This comic tries to capture some of the ineffable, fleeting, temporal moments that make up a grassroots community of love and support. It’s the enjoyment of a safe, welcoming space, good company, food, music, and the freedom to express language and culture on one’s own terms.’


Zeinab Mir describes her work, A Common Space, as follows: ‘This comic reflects on how a shared community environment helps different people to find spaces of friendship and common experience. I illustrate this from my own experience of seeing discrimination against Afghan refugees in Iran, and having the opportunity to meet those people in a welcoming community space.’

Diversity Arts Australia (DARTS) invited participant artists to reflect on the Stories from the Future project, which gathers culturally diverse creatives from across the country to imagine equitable alternative futures for the arts. This project is a partnership between DARTS, the University of Sydney, Refugee Art Project and state partners and receives core support from the Australia Council for the Arts, Create NSW, Inner West Council, City of Parramatta Council and Liverpool City Council.

Safdar Ahmed

Safdar Ahmed is a Sydney-based artist, musician and educator. He is a founding member of the community art organisation Refugee Art Project, and member of eleven, a collective of contemporary Muslim Australian artists, curators and writers. His first graphic novel, Still Alive, will be published by Twelve Panels Press in April 2021.

More by Safdar Ahmed ›

Zeinab Mir

Zeinab Mir is an emerging Sydney-based artist and comic maker who explores the themes of identity, displacement, and personal history. She has exhibited her work in group exhibitions at Chrissie Cotter and Cement Fondue galleries, and has self-published a number of comic zines, which she performed at two live, Read to Me events. She volunteers as a workshop facilitator with the not-for-profit community art organization Refugee Art Project.

More by Zeinab Mir ›

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate.

Related articles & Essays