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Archibald Prize winner Blak Douglas unveils new mural confronting coal damage in Redfern

Dhungatti artist and 2022 Archibald Prize winner Blak Douglas has launched his new mural Coalface in Redfern, conveying the damaging impacts the coal industry has on climate, Country and the environment.

Blak Douglas drew inspiration for the artwork from Gomeroi Country in north-west NSW, where coal and gas projects by companies like Whitehaven Coal and Santos are damaging Country.

The mural was unveiled in the heart of Redfern – a place of staunch First Nations history and creativity – and in the electorate of Federal Minister for Environment and Water, Tanya Plibersek, who has approved five new coal projects since becoming Minister.

Blak Douglas won the Archibald Prize in 2022 for his portrait of Wiradjuri artist Karla Dickens, titled Moby Dickens. Douglas depicted his good friend, Dickens, in the unprecedented 2022 floods in her hometown of Lismore in northern New South Wales, which devastated her community. Blak Douglas also won the Kilgour Prize in 2019, the STILL Award 2020, and was an Archibald Prize finalist five times before winning the esteemed award. 

You can read Blak Douglas' full artist statement below, and visit the mural at 87 Pitt Street, Redfern, NSW 2016. 


By Blak Douglas

It was indeed an honour to be commissioned to create this artwork in aim of speaking out

against the extractive fossil fuel industries whom ignore the destructive impact they have on ecosystems,the environment and climate. 

My intent with this mural was to depict the fragility of fauna against the wrath of coal mining. I chose to feature the Koala in this instance because what we are consistently finding is that this incredibly cute marsupial remains at the fore of the fight for preservation in NSW, not only in itself but its natural habitat. 

There is a key element that exists here on this continent that remains spiritually evasive to many, particularly those who observe life through economic eyes. There is a reason for why rare species of flora & fauna exist upon a landscape that contains desirable minerals.

These species are TOTEMS and caretakers of dreamings that date back what seems a millennia compared to when a “Federation” declared that... a visiting creed would hold rank in a self anointed Government and declare such a treasured ecosystem ‘up for grabs’ to the highest bidder. We must stand up to this injustice for the sake of our threatened species, our climate and also for our children - so that they may enjoy the treasured exuberance of being at one within such a landscape & with such a totem.

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