|Myuran Sukumaran in front of self-portrait.|
Bali 9 ringleader Myuran Sukumaran has been awarded an Associate Degree in Fine Art from Curtin University in Perth just days before he is expected to die.
He deserves this in so many ways and for so many reasons
Sukumaran was due to finish his Bachelor of Fine Arts, which he was completing via correspondence from Kerobokan prison in Bali, by the end of this year.
"It's just so unreal," Ben Quilty said of the degree awarded to Sukumaran.
His friend and mentor, Archibald prize winning artist Ben Quilty wrote last month that Sukumaran's mother, Raji, was worried that the pressure of an imminent firing squad would prevent "Myu" finishing his degree this year.
"She has worried more in the past 10 years than most mothers worry in a lifetime," Mr Quilty wrote in Fairfax Media.
"I told her that as long as he is allowed to live, nothing will stop Myuran Sukumaran."
Now Curtin University has confirmed that Sukumaran has already accrued enough points to be awarded an Associate Degree in Fine Art.
Mr Quilty said Curtin University was couriering the associate degree to him on Friday.
"It's just unreal, it's so unreal," Mr Quilty said.
"I really do think he'll be the 1st of quite a few people who will get qualifications like this through that art room [at Kerobokan jail]."
The Associate Degree comes as Sukumaran and Andrew Chan await their transferral to Nusakambangan island in Java, where they could be shot within days.
Mr Quilty, who along with Melbourne artist Matthew Sleeth conducts regular workshops at the jail, said he was initially sceptical when Sukumaran proposed commencing a Fine Art degree.
"To be quite honest, I thought that was a highly difficult thing to be taking on under the circumstances."
He said Sukumaran's achievement would inspire others who attended the classes at Kerobokan jail, who already look up to the Australian.
"Hopefully they'll continue with what he has started no matter what happens. I know that's what he wants."
Mr Quilty said that every time he taught in the prison 4 to 5 ex-inmates attended the classes. He used to think it weird that people would willingly return to prison but now understands the transformative power of what Sukumaran had instigated in the prison.
"Now I think" 'Myuran, you are so f-----g extraordinary'. He deserves this in so many ways and for so many reasons."
On Friday paramilitary authorities in Bali carried out a frightening re-enactment of their highly militarised transfer, involving handcuffed prisoners and armoured tanks.
Source: Sydney Morning Herald, February 28, 2015
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