Kahlil Gibran: Powerful migrant journey explored in Melbourne museum
Photo credit: Kahlil Gibran: The Garden of the Prophet, Source: Museums Victoria
Celebrating the life of best-selling American-Lebanese poet of the twentieth century Kahlil Gibran, Immigration Museum has opened its doors to showcase his artworks and manuscript at their latest exhibition Kahlil Gibran: The Garden of the Prophet, until March 17, 2019.
Author of the inspirational masterpiece The Prophet, the exhibition will showcase direct quotes from the book, as well as 12 original paintings created by Gibran to accompany the work.
Touching on many aspects of life including love, pain, friendship, family, beauty, religion, joy, sorrow and death, The Prophet is made up of 26 prose poetry fables and was originally published in 1923 and has since sold tens of millions of copies and is one of the most famous and best-selling works of religious fiction.
The Lebanese-born poet left northern Lebanon in 1895 and moved to Boston with his mother and siblings, where he began learning English for the first time at the age of 12.
After mastering English, Gibran wrote The Prophet, a work making him widely considered to be the third most popular poet of all time after Shakespeare and Lao-tzu.
“Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution” – Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet.
Kahlil Gibran, Nude Figures Lying at the Foot of a Mountain by a Lake (1923 – 1931) Watercolour © Gibran Museum
Immigration Museum General Manager Rohini Kappadath said she hopes that through the exhibition, visitors will explore the power and the relevance of the works today.
“To many, Gibran is a cultural icon and literary rebel,” she said.
He took a great deal of inspiration from his experiences as a migrant and strove constantly to resolve cultural and human conflict.
Exhibition highlights include:
- 12 original paintings created by Gibran to accompany The Prophet, displayed within a space that invites visitors to sit, contemplate and read from copies of the book
- A signed and annotated copy of The Prophet by Elvis Presley, who used to buy the book as a gift for friends
- A galley proof of The Prophet covered in Gibran’s annotations for his publisher
- Artefacts including Gibran’s writing desk and artist box
To stay true to the spirit of honouring Gibran’s works, direct quotes from the poet and his family and friends will be used instead of standard text labels.
“Quotes have been taken from Gibran’s own works, letters between him and his friends and family, interviews and other correspondence, the idea is to create an emotional collage of his life and work,” explains Kappadath.
Kahlil Gibran, The Divine World (1923), Illustration for The Prophet, Charcoal © Gibran Museum
The exhibition is accompanied with projections of community voices like the former Premier of Victoria, the Hon. Steve Bracks AC, the Hon. Faddy Zouki OAM (Lebanese business leader) and others who share their thoughts on the influence of Gibran’s works.
Kahlil Gibran: The Garden of the Prophet
DATE: 28 November – 17 March 2019
WHERE: Immigration Museum, 400 Flinders St, Melbourne
COST: Free with Immigration Museum entry