Student reveals hidden beauty behind estate

The notorious Warrawong housing estate known as Legoland might seem an unusual place to find artistic inspiration.

But former Keira High School art student Shaniece Igano, who has lived in Bundaleer Estate for seven years, looked past her home's reputation to unearth its hidden beauty in her short film, Legoland 2502.

The movie, produced last year for her Higher School Certificate art course, was selected as one of just 42 works statewide to be displayed at the Art Gallery of NSW as part of its annual ARTEXPRESS exhibition.

The talented 17-year-old used infra-red film to show the "raw beauty" in different scenes from her suburb, while she whispered a monologue of her thoughts in the background.

"Legoland is the place where I live, the reason why it's called Legoland is because all the houses look the same and are close together," she says in the film.

"It's been seven years since I first began living in this place, I would rather not call here my home, I don't feel comfortable in it.

"I feel embarrassed revealing to people where I live because it has a bad reputation, but it's not entirely bad. It might look ugly, but through my lens I think it's beautiful."

Shaniece hopes the film will help to challenge people's perceptions about what it's like to live in public housing.

"Hopefully it opens people's eyes a bit more to the idea that even though somewhere might look like a bad place, there's still some good bits in it.

"There's a strong feeling of community about it and we're so close," she said.

"If anything happens people are always there to help each other out."

Shaniece is now studying screen and media at Wollongong TAFE and hopes to carve out a career in documentary filmmaking by helping other people from disadvantaged backgrounds share their stories.

Former Oak Flats High School student Milli Wheeler's mixed-media painting Sweet Simplicity was also selected for the prestigious ARTEXPRESS exhibition, which is on at the Art Gallery of NSW until April 14.

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