RMIT doctoral researcher Rushdi Anwar is the first Kurdish-Australian artist to have his work collected by the Australian War Memorial.
Having graduated with a Master of Fine Art (coursework) from RMIT in 2010, Mr Anwar is now studying for his PhD in Fine Art.
Mr Anwar, whose hometown was chemically bombed by the Saddam Hussein regime in 1988, says his art is filled with violence, as he has no choice.
"Growing up in the Kurdistan autonomous region of Iraq, war was a part of everyday life, and, although I have lived in Australia since 1998, the violent memories have never left me," he said.
These experiences have been a part of his artwork ever since, and will now form part of the narrative of war in Australia in the Australian War Memorial's art collection.
The memorial recently bought one of Mr Anwar's photographic installations, each image part of a representation of the aftermath of the 1988 gas attack on the population of Halabja, his home town.
"It was constantly a space of violence, of conflict.
"When I was a child it was Kurdish freedom fighters with the Iraqi government, then it was the Iraqi-Iranian war, then the Iraqi army against Kurdish freedom fighters, the Halabja poison gas attack in 1988, the Kurdish Genocide, the al-Anfal campaign against the Kurds in 1988 and then the first Gulf War," he said.
"The reason to leave that country was uncertainty and instability.
"It was basically that life was just shaky, and you lived your life day to day, and everything was unsettled, you didn't know what was going to come tomorrow, in all aspects of life.
"Once I came across an audience in Turkey and they asked me why I was doing this, why I didn't paint flowers.
"And I said I was in a place where [flowers] did not exist - if I saw a flower, I would paint a flower."
Mr Anwar has held solo and group exhibitions in Australia, Canada, France, Switzerland, Austria, Finland, Norway, Bulgaria, Japan, Thailand and Kurdistan.
Mr Anwar's PhD supervisor in the School of Art, Professor David Thomas, said his work addressed the transitory nature of life.
"Anwar's work addresses the transitory nature of life," Professor Thomas said.
"He manifests an understanding of change through the manipulation and juxtapositions of images and materials including: nails, rust, ash, charcoal, wood, earth, ink, paper, plaster, books, and photographs.
"Specifically his works reference the social and political unrest in his home country and his Kurdish heritage, but they also have a broader message and talk to us of care, attention and even redemption through art."