Politics

Hundreds Of Artists Are Fighting Adani With Heartbreaking Works Of Art

Politicians around the country are being inundated with artworks of endangered black-throated finches.

Adani Black Finch Project

The fight against the proposed Adani coal mine has sparked tens of thousands of ordinary Australians into action. They packed city centres during the student climate strike, demanding government intervention on climate change and an end to our country’s deadly addiction to fossil fuels. Hundreds travelled to northern Queensland ahead of the federal election as part of a controversial anti-Adani convoy. In Brisbane, activists from Extinction Rebellion literally glued themselves to the middle of a busy street.

But protest doesn’t just mean marching and civil disobedience. Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Australian artists have taken part in a collective demonstration, rallying around a single, fragile symbol that highlights with heartbreaking clarity what is at stake in this fight.

 

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The Black Finch Project was started by New Zealand born, Melbourne based artist and writer Charlotte Watson, and takes its name from the black-throated finch, a small, endangered bird whose habitat is threatened by the Adani mine. Some activists thought the finch might be the key to scuttling the mine, but the Queensland government has since dashed those hopes, signing off on Adani’s habitat conservation scheme despite the objections of the Australian Conservation Foundation.

The idea of the project is simple. Watson put out a call on social media inviting artists to create artworks of the finch, which would then be sent, en masse, to politicians around the country.

 

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“The response was stunning,” Watson told Junkee. “I am humbled by the generosity and enthusiasm from not only artists, but also the scientists, biologists, conservationists, children and school groups who participated in the project.”

Watson received submissions “from children and parents, through to professional and award-winning artists” covering everything from “drawings, sculptures, ceramics, quilting, knitting, embroidery, paintings, collages, prints and even a skate deck!” As of writing, more than 1,400 pieces have been submitted.

 

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“The art that has been made is heartbreaking,” Watson said. “Countless contributors have shared with me their fear and concerns. For example: one 11-year-old girl who aspires to be a marine biologist contributed a drawing. Her mother told me her daughter was afraid there wouldn’t be anything left in the ocean by the time she was old enough to study it.”

“Other contributors work in environmental science and felt like this project was one of the only ways they could communicate the loss and sadness they see every day in their work. That drawing a picture might do something different for the recipient, when it was clear that their research and statistics weren’t being heard.”

 

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Watson encouraged contributors to send their work to whichever politician they preferred, although she did provide a list of suggestions that included the office addresses of Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley and Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“We are in a precarious time for the planet,” she told us. “If certain decisions mean that we continue to risk endangered species and their habitat, then those who make those decisions should be prepared to accept the subsequent anger and grief.”

The art has also flooded social media, with artists sharing their creations using the hashtags #1000finches and #blackfinchproject.

 

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When we asked what response Watson was hoping for from the recipients, she told us she had “no expectations”.

“Myself, and the hundreds of other artists, are simply holding up a mirror,” she said. “What politicians do with that is up to them.”

 

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Feature image by Julian Aubrey Smith