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Australian art

Contemporary art


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Ali and Rahma



Cassandra Mathie


1977 -


Ali and Rahma are refugees from Dafur, Sudan. They arrived in Australia in June 2004 having escaped persecution in order to start a new, safer life. The portrait is from a larger body of work entitled Elhigrah (Arabic for migration), which documents the stories of a number of Sudanese refugees who have resettled in Brisbane.

The image shows Ali and Rahma in their first Australian home, a small suburban flat in Brisbane. In it Mathie aims to capture the reality associated with the journey and process of establishing a new life away from one’s homeland following forced migration.

"I met with Ali and Rahma a number of times at their home during which they revealed their stories to me and discussed their lives, their journeys and their hopes," says Mathie. "To create this image, I invited them to engage with the camera and present themselves and their experiences in a chosen location within their new home. The portrait is an intimate reflection of their life before arriving in Australia and their life now. It is an image that aims to capture their combined life experiences."

The photograph was shot using a large format camera and studio lighting. This created a formality within the domestic environment, which emphasized the process of the sitters presenting themselves as subjects and storytellers. Mathie chose a large-scale reproduction of the image in order to recreate the home within the gallery, transport the viewer to Ali and Rahma's dining room, and confront and connect them with their gaze. This work was developed with the support of the Museum of Brisbane.

Born in Townsville in 1977, Mathie is a Brisbane-based documentary photographer and a graduate of Griffith University's Queensland College of Art Bachelor of Photography course. Her work documents and explores the universal issues of identity, culture and migration within different cultural contexts. Over the past eight years, she has traveled extensively and worked in a number of locations including The Balkans, The Caucasus, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Mongolia and, currently, Lebanon.

Extract from AGNSW website media release.

This work won the Australian Photographic Portrait Prize in 2005 and was acquired by the Gallery in 2005.




Media category


Materials used

digital print


137.6 x 107.7 cm image; 141.1 x 111.2 x 6.4 cm frame


The Citigroup Private Bank Australian Photographic Portrait Prize winner 2005


Not on display

Accession number


Photographic Portrait Prize

Winner - 2005

Artist information

Cassandra Mathie

Works in the collection


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history