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Mother of Bali Nine member Myuran Sukumaran wants people to remember him through art

Myuran Sukumaran
Myuran Sukumaran
The mother of executed Bali Nine drug smuggler Myuran Sukumaran wants her son's artwork to travel the world as a powerful anti-death penalty message.

Speaking to 7.30 for the first time since Sukumaran's death in Indonesia in 2015, Raji Sukumaran said her once staunch-faith in God had been shaken by the execution of her son.

She recalled trying to enjoy her time with him as she watched him painting in prison, first in Bali then on the execution island of Nusakambangan.

"I used to sit behind him and watch him for hours and hours," Ms Sukumaran said.

"He spent so much time and he was so proud of it. The last paintings, he said, 'If I had another two years! If I have another six months! I could do better'."

Her son's last days and hours play like a film on Ms Sukumaran's mind.

"I told him to go and have a rest. I told him to go and have a shower and have a rest and what for? He was going to be taken and shot.

"And I also remember telling Myu at the last minute, 'pray darling,' that God can do miracles, he can perform miracles, pray.

"And he looked at me and said, 'Amma, I will pray, but whether miracle happens or not, you continue to pray'.

"And at that point I thought, 'he's given up'."

Ms Sukumaran said praying was something she could no longer do.

"Even God didn't help me. The Government couldn't help. They couldn't do anything," she said.

"[Indonesian President Joko Widodo was] the only person who could have showed compassion and he didn't."

Sukumaran was executed by firing squad alongside Andrew Chan in April 2015, after the pair was convicted for attempting to smuggle eight kilograms of heroin from Indonesia to Australia.

'His studio was his church'


The paintings Myuran created in prison now form part of a major exhibition in Sydney curated by his friend and mentor, artist Ben Quilty.
Myuran's mother, Raji Sukumaran
Myuran's mother, Raji Sukumaran

"I am really proud of him. His painting was his life," Ms Sukumaran said.

"I want [the exhibition] to travel around the world and I want people to see his painting and I want people to see him through the painting.

"He was only in this world for a short time but he accomplished a lot."

Quilty visited Sukumaran many times in Kerobokan Prison in Bali. He said painting was Myuran's "solace".

"His studio was his church," Quilty said.

"It was the way he could sort those problems out could come up with, in a sense, visual answers, about the strength of the human condition, the strength inside Myuran Sukumaran.

Myuran Sukumaran's art exhibition, Another Day in Paradise, opens at Sydney's Campbelltown Arts Centre next week.

Source: abc.net.au, Louise Milligan, January 6, 2017

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