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Creative Witnessing: Andrew Quilty and Ben Quilty

As part of the Wheeler Centre’s 2023 Spring Fling program, Walkley Award-winning photojournalist Andrew Quilty was joined by his cousin, Archibald Prize-winning artist Ben Quilty, to discuss his new book This is Afghanistan.

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Appearing together in conversation for the first time, the cousins discussed Andrew’s new book, which offers a unique visual record of this vibrant, complex and resilient country’s last nine years of conflict and turmoil. Ben’s acclaimed portrait series, After Afghanistan, was created during his time as Australia’s Official War Artist in Afghanistan, and presents a deeply impressionist artistic record of the experiences of Australian forces embedded in that country.

Together, they reflected on the immense responsibility of bearing witness through the camera lens and on the canvas, the power of photography and art to shed light on conflict and human rights, and the moral imperative not to look away.

Diana Sayed, CEO of the Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights, opened the event, followed by a keynote address from Shuja Jamal. A researcher, advocate and the former director-general for international relations on Kabul’s National Security Council, Jamal spoke to the current political and social reality in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of Western forces.


A portion of proceeds from this event was donated to the Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights. Individual donations to the AMWCHR can be made here.



Spring Fling was proudly supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria and the Melbourne City Revitalisation Fund. Special thanks to official bookseller Readings and accommodation partner The Sofitel.

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