Light Shines on Refugee

Photographer art prize finalist

Kate Crawford

A SUDANESE born woman who was “left for dead” in a refugee camp is the subject of a remarkable portrait by Mosman photographer Kellie Leczinska.

Kellie Leczinska’s stunning portrait of Kuei.

The portrait of Kuei has been named as a finalist in the National Photographic Portrait Prize now on show at the National Gallery in Canberra.

“I couldn’t believe such an elegant, beautiful woman had survived so much adversity,” said Leczinska.

She first met Kuei, who has built a new life in Australia with her Australian partner and their young son, on another photo shoot.

“I asked her about her life and her story emerged,” said Leczinska.

Kuie was born in northwestern South Sudan which has been afflicted by civil war for decades.

She survived famine, and outbreaks of diseases like typhoid and ebola in her village, and at age eight, was separated from her mother.

Kuei spent eight years in a refugee camp and says at one stage she was “left for dead”, before eventually emigrating to Australia.

The portrait was selected from more than 3000 portrait entries in the National Photographic Portrait Prize.

“I am so happy that this portrait has ignited interest in the subject of immigration and cultural l diversity in Australia, as do many of the portraits on show this year,” Leczinska said.

“Immigration stories are the DNA of Australia.”

The National Photographic Portrait Prize is on exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery until June 1.

The winner, announced last week, was Gary Grealy’s portrait of Richard Morecroft and artist Alison Mackay. An exhibition of Grealy’s portraits was staged at the Mosman Art Gallery in 2015.

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