From community activism to global social movements, THE ART OF PROTEST features politically engaged artists past and present responding to disaster and injustice and calling for change.
This exhibition surveys over 100 years of resistance, with new artists taking up the fight each decade. From worker’s rights, feminism, HIV/AIDS awareness, advocacy and compassion for all Australians, calls for environmental policy or the preservation of local heritage, through to the events of the past few tumultuous years - the COVID-19 pandemic, the apocalyptic bushfires of 2020 and an urgent need for action on climate change.
Ann Newmarch’s screenprints of the 70s and 80s employ the graphic nature of the poster format to challenge traditional notions of art and gender roles whilst Tina Havelock Stevens’ performance video The Breakwater 2018 set in Newcastle, documents one of the earliest instances of community activism in Australia.
Noel Counihan shines a light on the working conditions of miners juxtaposed against Simryn Gill’s photography that reveals the enormous impact an open cut mine has on the landscape. Deborah Kelly’s Coal is Over 2019 installation and homage to Yoko Ono and John Lennon’s 1969 peace campaign offers a reminder that alternative energy solutions are here and available (if we want it).
Dani Marti's soft sculpture installation Orifices was created during a residency with the Galley of Modern Art, Glasgow and part of a body of work aimed at reducing social exclusion, homophobia and HIV related stigma. The decision by Glasgow City Council to censor parts of the exhibition led the artist to instead undertake the guerrilla action of installing islands of blood red scourers throughout the city, not allowing already marginalised individuals and communities be hidden away and silenced.
Peter Drew and Alex Seton illustrate the continuing plight of refugees and asylum seekers through the guerrilla art of poster pasteups and carving of these stories into ancient marble. Piers Greville and Fiona Lee employ charcoal, ash and salvaged materials from the 2019/2020 bushfires as their medium, presenting a bleak reality, not of our future but our present.
Maddison Gibbs skilfully combines traditional cultural practices and contemporary methods to illuminate underrepresented voices. Her sculpted fern spirit I Can’t Breathe 2021 is a simultaneous call from Aboriginal people and the environment. Joseph McGlennon and Anne Zahalka’s photographic re-creations preserve native fauna in their environment, comparing our past and present to question what will be left in our future.
THE ART OF PROTEST brings together local, national and international artists, newly acquired works and highlights from Newcastle Art Gallery's collection to explore how far we've come and how far we still have to go.
Grace COSSINGTON SMITH Strike c1917 oil on paper mounted on hardboard 23.0 x 20.1cm Purchased with assistance from the Art Gallery and Conservatorium Committee 1967 Newcastle Art Gallery collection Courtesy the estate of Grace Cossington Smith
Jemima WYMAN Mass Monument (Yellow and Black) 2018 hand-cut digital photo collage 125.0 x 89.0cm Les Renfrew Bequest 2020 Newcastle Art Gallery collection Courtesy the artist
Tony ALBERT You Wreck Me #18 2020 printed photographs and vintage Captain Cook ephemera on archival paper 23.2 x 38.2cm Les Renfrew Bequest 2020 Newcastle Art Gallery collection Courtesy the artist and Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney