Western design academic auctions painting to support Afghani aid effort

A Western Sydney University lecturer has used his artmaking talent to help support people impacted by the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Dr Leo Robba, a Social Design lecturer, well-known artist, and academic from the School of Humanities and Communication Arts, has auctioned off his artwork depicting the Parramatta River in Sydney’s west.

After talking with fellow artists Ben Quilty, Reg Mombassa, and Lucy Culliton, Dr Robba felt compelled to join in the support of the Afghani people through his own art.

The auctions will support alumnus Ben Quilty’s For Afghanistan campaign that is raising vital funds for UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, and their vital work in Afghanistan to provide shelter, support and protection.

Atlassian’s founders and directors, Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar, have agreed to match all funds raised dollar for dollar, and so far they’ve raised nearly $5 million.

“Art and design are wonderful connectors, and it was important for me to show students and the broader community our preparedness to step up particularly during these challenging times,” said Dr Robba.

“We have a diverse and celebrated community at Western Sydney University, and many of our students have been directly impacted by the tragic situation in Afghanistan.”

“Donating my painting, alongside the contributions of others in the artistic community, is a small but practical way to show solidarity and support.”

‘Parramatta River, Blue Gold’ was created in 2020 at the Parramatta South campus as part of Dr Robba’s Painted River Project that supports people to better value water and river systems and to celebrate the uniqueness of place.

He chose to auction this painting because it symbolises the very real connection between the University, this important waterway, and the people of western Sydney.


29 September 2021

Ali Sardyga, Senior Media Officer

Photo credit: Sally Tsoutas