Gippsland artist Abbas Mehran, known for his colourful paintings rich with Persian symbolism, is applying his artistic talents to aid underprivileged families in Cambodia.
Born in Iran and a resident of Boolarra in the Latrobe Valley, Mr Mehran has launched artforsunrise.com, a website whereby his paintings will be offered for sale in support of Australian charity, Sunrise Cambodia.
Established early in the 1990s as an orphanage by Geraldine Cox OAM, Sunrise Cambodia now operates within the southeast Asian nation to assist at-risk kids, struggling families and poor communities. It is funded entirely through donations.
Mr Mehran's involvement with Sunrise Cambodia began several years ago when he visited Cambodia to teach and encourage the children to draw and paint.
Mr Mehran then painted a series of portraits of the children. Many of those paintings are now on offer through his website, with 70% of all money raised being directed to the work of Sunrise.
“The children are inspiring. Many have lived through hardships we will never know. I wanted to do something to help Geraldine continue to look after them,” he explained.
"Many of the children in the portraits come from destitute families. Some of the fathers are violent alcoholics, the mothers forced into prostitution to survive.
"The children talk of siblings being sold into slavery or they themselves being traded for money. Some are AIDS orphans; some carry the HIV virus too. Sunrise Cambodia is providing care and hope for these kids."
Ms Cox said she was thrilled to have the support of Abbas, a talented and internationally exhibited artist.
“Abbas is very kind man and a wonderful artist. The children think of him as a beloved uncle. He has even inspired some budding artists here at Sunrise. I hope the Australian public will help support the project, which ultimately helps our kids.”
There are 12 portraits available to purchase. Each one captures something of the character of the beautiful Cambodian children. A large portrait of Geraldine Cox is also available.
All works on offer are oil or acrylic on canvas, with 70% of sales proceeds to be donated to Sunrise Cambodia. (Note, this is not a tax-deductible donation.)
*(Update: April 22) Note: Abbas is now donating 70% of sales proceeds to Sunrise Cambodia.