A NSW Government website


From March Arts to the National Gallery of Australia

Miranda Chau's painting captures her story of resilience and survival.

Two people stand together next to a painting
SydneyConnect image: Miranda Chau with Tony Armstrong at the Extra-Ordinary Things exhibition

Did you catch Miranda Chau telling her story of survival and resilience on ABC TV as part of Tony Armstrong’s Extra-Ordinary Things series?  

Miranda is a member of Canterbury Hospital’s Consumer and Community Advisory Council. She spoke with Tony about a precious photograph taken in 1978 that captured the chaotic scene as she and other refugees were rescued at sea from a crowded boat, before being brought to Australia as refugees.  

Miranda was just 11 years old, travelling with her uncle’s family and her grandmother.  

“We fled Vietnam on the 19-metre boat, and this was the third day in the sea. We were so lucky that we met this oil platform," said Miranda. 

"We were just sitting very packed with our knees up next to one another ... 290 people!" 

Many people were captured in their attempts to escape Vietnam, many were attacked by pirates, and an unknown number perished at sea. 

With the photograph slowly deteriorating, Miranda wanted to ensure the image was preserved for posterity. She decided to paint her own rendition of the photo before generously donating the painting to Canterbury Hospital as part of March Arts 2023.  

March Arts is a celebration of the role The Arts play in healthcare. 

The painting, which took three months to complete, captures part of Miranda’s story of survival and resilience. Speaking with Tony, she remembered, “The water was dark like ink”, and described being struck by the blue sky and fresh air of Australia.  

"I would like this painting to be kept forever, and my story to be told and shared with the public." 

Dr Jason Cheng, Acting General Manager, Canterbury Hospital said that Miranda’s generous donation to the hospital, both in her time as a consumer advisory member as well as an artist, is greatly appreciated.  

“Miranda’s painting of the scene at sea encapsulates her incredible story of survival and is a reflection of the breadth of life experience, talent and strong spirit of our Canterbury Hospital community,” added Dr Cheng. 

Miranda’s painting is on display at the National Gallery of Australia as part of the Extra-Ordinary Things exhibition before it returns to Canterbury Hospital.  

You can view the episode on the ABC TV website at https://iview.abc.net.au/video/DO2217H004S00