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Finding Peace – MOKUY by Gary Lang NT Dance Company

Apr 11, 2014

Image: Murray Kamara, Sierra Leone Youth Ambassador. Credit: George Voulgaropoulos.

“Friction’ is what occurs when things rub against each other. It can cause eruptions as people in a place push up against one another, jostling for space. Bankstown has commonly been portrayed as a site of friction; as ethnic communities sparking on the fault line, a site of violence and crime. A multicultural community presented by the media as a ‘clash of civilisations’. But friction also creates energy—and with it comes new possibilities.”

Mapping Frictions: Stories from Bankstown, is a website dedicated to offering new multimedia content and celebrating untold stories from Western Sydney. Mapping Frictions provides a much needed and timely platform for local voices and the opportunity to re-invent storytelling about Bankstown and beyond. These are the stories from a place in Western Sydney saturated with a vibrant history and one of the most multicultural areas in Australia. Around one in three people in Bankstown were born in a non-English speaking country. These are people with diverse stories to tell. Despite this, the sensationalist tales that have dominated the media headlines have been of high crime rates, violence, and religious extremism. The project seeks to slow down the news cycle and promote a more complex understanding of life in Western Sydney.

The Mapping Frictions project, based at BYDS (Bankstown Youth Development Service), has teamed a range of emerging and award-winning photographers, filmmakers, writers, poets and web developers to tell Bankstown’s stories through the eyes of its locals. The team includes Professor James Arvanitakis from the University of Western Sydney, Oculi photographer George Voulgaropoulos, renowned filmmaker and producer Fadle Fred El-Harris, poets from Bankstown Poetry Slam and local website developers LowCloudCreative.

The website profiles local Bankstown figures such as:


  • Anne Massaquoi: who fled Sierra Leone as a refugee and now runs the multi-award winning hairdressing business Glamour Sisters with her daughter Wokie.
  • Benny Ngo: who migrated from Vietnam at 10 years and currently runs Hybrid Formz a local break dancing academy.
  • Aida Zein:  a fashion designer of Syrian descent who runs Ninety9 boutique, a local business catering for the gap in modern clothes available for Muslim women.
  • Murray Kamara: who fled Sierra Leone’s Civil War as a refugee and currently runs the Sierra Leone Youth Group in Bankstown and recently interned at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in preparation for his career in social work.


Mapping Frictions is interested in different forms of storytelling—from articles, animation and documentary to photo essays or audio pieces—and collaboration between the community and artists. The project is aiming to expand into other suburbs in Western Sydney, with photography and writing workshops planned for locals interested in getting involved and making connections across cultural and geographical borders. The project will be featured as part of the 2014 Sydney Writers’ Festival on May 20  and 24

The project is currently a pilot website supported by BYDS and funded by Australia Council for the Arts, Community Partnerships.

To look at the website and get involved head to

For updates follow on Facebook.

Kavita Bedford is Mapping Frictions Creative Producer & (Westwords Western Sydney Writers’ Fellow )