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Opening Hearts

Join Sydney artist Penny Ryan to unwrap 1468 ceramic human hearts as part of a special Human Rights Day event on Saturday 10 December at Circular Quay. Each small heart represents the 1468 men, women and children held in detention at Nauru and Manus Island.

As part of the art installation the individual anatomical hearts will be wrapped in cloth and placed in a spiral formation on the lawns adjacent to the MCA. The public will be invited to enter the art installation and unwrap a heart. 400 volunteers were involved in heart-making workshops and many hearts contain inscriptions from the maker.

“Walking into the spiral, picking up a heart, feeling its weight and fragility provides a different sensory experience to remind us of our common humanity” says artist Penny Ryan who has given talks at the Art Gallery of NSW and National Art School about this project.

“Art has a way of helping shift our perception on what is an overwhelming issue. I have now done more than 45 heart-making workshops this year. People are keen to talk at the workshops. Many describe a sense of shame about Australia’s response and their own futility to change its direction.

Many also express their gratitude and luck that they or their parents or grandparents were able to come to a welcoming Australia. The Opening Hearts project touches something in people. They recognise that they are not as alone as they feel in their desire to reach out and welcome people seeking asylum.”

For more information about the event visit

WHAT: Opening Hearts
WHEN: 10/12/2016 (10:00 am - 4:00 pm)
WHERE: The Rocks

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