Andrew Duong

Andrew Duong Director, Connection Arts Space
Bachelor of Fine Art + Business 2013 Bachelor of Fine Art (honours) 2015

Propelled by the idea of a gallery that could strengthen the community’s access to contemporary art, three Monash University Fine Art students teamed up to start Connection Arts Space in Dandenong.

Founders Mehdi Jaghuri, Andrew Duong and Genevieve Townsend opened Connection Arts Space, formerly known as Connection Gallery, in November 2015. At the time, Gen and Medhi were currently studying the Bachelor of Fine Art while Andrew had recently graduated from the course.

The initial idea to start the gallery came from Mehdi and, as he explained, the team soon gained the support of the City of Greater Dandenong Council.

“We wanted to engage the community and share the knowledge we had learnt studying Fine Art at Monash University. We saw the need to create an inclusive art space that helped support local artists in communicating their work,” said Mehdi.

"Our former Fine Art lecturers and the staff from Monash University were (and still are) very supportive. They’re always happy to provide advice and they encouraged us to build on our achievements as the gallery activities grew.”

Since opening, Connection Arts Space has facilitated debut exhibitions for several local artists.

“We’ve seen the positive impact that our art programs, such as the Express Your Rights workshop, have on the community,” said Gen.

“It's given young people from the community the opportunity to understand and learn about human rights and explore these themes through art, culminating in two exhibitions.”

Director Andrew Duong said the team is proud of the role Connection Arts Space has played in “providing pathways for future artists, educators, advisors, and arts managers”.

“We’ve had past volunteers move onto professional roles in event management, marketing, human resource, finance, and social work,” he said.

Professor Kathy Temin, Contemporary Australian Artist and Head of Fine Art at Monash University, said she and the Fine Art staff are proud of the graduates for building a thriving community arts space.

“These three artists are lifting the profile of contemporary art within a local community and more broadly across the state. They’re sharing knowledge and helping young people deal with challenging issues by helping them to find their voice through a creative and artistic outlet.”

Photo (left to right): Genevieve Townsend, Mehdi Jaghur, and Andrew Duong