Arts Minister Senator George Brandis recently visited the Gladstone Regional Gallery which is currently hosting the national touring Bimblebox -Art – Science – Nature exhibition. During his visit he took a close look at my painting and photograph of the 15 endangered black-throated finches that represent the 15 birds of the species observed on the Bimblebox Nature Refuge by Birdlife Australia.
The Gladstone Observer news article and video can be viewed here: http://www.gladstoneobserver.com.au/news/artists-meet-minister-art-gallery/2715994/
The two artworks were created from specimens seen in the Queensland Museum zoological collection. The photograph is of the specimens at the Museum, the painting my vision of the future of these birds when their habitat is replaced by a coal mine roughly the same size as the UK. These works are important to me because this is an endangered bird species that inhabits the Bimblebox Nature Refuge, an important transitory habitat for the species. The existence of the Bimblebox habitat and this bird is currently threatened by Galilee Basin mining projects. These projects have been given state and federal government approvals to proceed despite the Bimblebox Nature Refuge owners’ original agreement with the Queensland Government to preserve the property and its biodiversity in perpetuity.
If you would like to understand the scientific research published regarding the impact of Galilee Basin mining projects to the Australian environment and climate change issues, see: https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/uploads/af9ceab751ba2d0d3986ee39e1ef04fd.pdf
It is important that a senior Liberal Federal Government Minister has seen the Bimblebox -Art-Science-Nature exhibition, on tour nationally until 2017, and the issues the exhibition explores regarding the Australian environment, the native species, and people, threatened by the monster Galilee Basin mine projects. That the Minister liked my work (see Gladstone Observer video) has only reminded me that art yet has the power and relevance to reach and appeal to a broad audience demographic about the critical issues of our time.
It is my hope that the value, relevance, and contributions of individual artists to national public museum exhibition programs, and the importance of projects such as Bimblebox, are now more clearly understood by the Minister. My work was made possible by the assistance of the Queensland Museum and its staff, the Bimblebox Nature Refuge, the observational data undertaken by Birdlife Australia, the fellow artists who contributed to this exhibition, the artist Jill Sampson and curator Beth Jackson who connected so many creative minds to the project, the Visions of Australia Regional Exhibition Fund (administered by the Australia Council), the Museum and Galleries Queensland organisation, and the many regional galleries who have supported and hosted this exhibition nationally. The support of individual artists benefits so many people, including audiences. I hope that the Minister will now reconsider his recent changes to the funding of the Australia Council in light of what he has experienced at this gallery.