Saturday, December 19, 2020


On December 18, The Sydney Morning Herald reported that 'the NSW Land and Environment Court has upheld a decision by the state’s Independent Planning Commission to reject a controversial coal mine planned for rich farmland north-west of Sydney', in the Bylong Valley.

See earlier posts on the Bylong Valley

Thursday, July 7, 2016

While We Sleep open till 30 July

Cigarettes, asbestos, now fossil fuels. The impacts of big business on public health

Closing event and artists talks 2-5pm Saturday 30 July. All welcome

above foreground: WRVAP While We Sleep 2016 lights,model trucks, wall
While We Sleep is a WRVAP project that is part of FIELDWORK: artist encounters, an exhibition project curated by Gary Warner, that creates spatial, conceptual, sonic and material conversations between recent works of a collection of artists with decades-long practice trajectories involving, in various ways, work in the field or of the field.

FIELDWORK: artist encounters is open 11am - 5pm Monday - Friday and Saturday 11am - 4pm at SCA Galleries, Sydney College of the Arts, Balmain Road (entry opposite Cecily St), Rozelle, NSW.  

While We Sleep is a collaborative exhibition that includes both collaborative and individual work by WRVAP artists Suzanne Bartos, Neil Berecry Brown, Sue Callanan, Juliet Fowler Smith, Noelene Lucas, Margaret Roberts, David Watson and Toni Warburton. It draws on our visits to Bylong, Bulga, Maules Creek, Wollar and other places in NSW where we engaged with communities who are working courageously to protect themselves and their environment from the devastating onslaught of big coal mining.

above back-front: Noelene Lucas While We Sleep 2016 video; L: Juliet Fowler Smith So Many Stories 2016 carpet, chalk; R: Neil Berecry Brown Babylon 2016 mixed media and LED; Sue Callanan You Cooked Yet?  2016 paint and found commercial hair driers; Margaret Roberts BULGA 2015, ISDS 2015 tulle;  Suzanne Bartos Spin 2016 repurposed 44-gallon drums and LED signs.
 above L-R: Neil Berecry Brown Babylon 2016 mixedmedia and LED, Margaret Roberts ISDS 2015 and part of BYLONG 2015, tulle on floor; Juliet Fowler Smith So Many Stories 2016 photographic prints on wall; Suzanne Bartos Spin 2016 repurposed 44-gallon drums and LED signs.

above back:David Watson+Gary Higgin The Bridge 2016;Toni Warburton care and maintenance2016
see The Bridge in process and context: 
David Watson Australian Navigators 2015 Lambda print

Friday, April 29, 2016

Visit to Wollar

Col Faulkner outside his c. 1904
ex-butcher’s shop home in Wollar

Col ‘Midget’ Faulkner still holds the record, he says, for the longest tube ride on Sydney’s south side. Never one for publicity or competitions, Col – not to be confused with Bernard ‘Midget’ Farrelly – watched the greats come and go, and gave most of them more than he got: even world-champion Nat Young once made the mistake of dropping in on Col’s wave at Cronulla Point!

Nowadays Col lives a long way from the surf, in the tiny, dying hamlet of Wollar, 50 km north-east of Mudgee, five hours’ drive from Sydney. He lobbed there 30 years ago to visit his uncle, helped out with the shearing for six months, and never left. Col loved the peace and quiet - of being quite a way from anywhere. But for the past decade his town has been stealthily besieged, its social fabric eroded by the insidious intrusion of multinational Peabody Energy (the world’s largest private-sector coal company – recently declared bankrupt in the US), which operates the Wilpinjong coal mine, ever-closer to town. The NSW government is currently considering (i.e. about to approve) Pit 8 – an expansion which will bring more unacceptable dust, noise and division to the town and its dwindling population. Already residents have lost the mechanic and the hardware/stockfeed supply … and the school’s down to eight pupils. Since the bottleshop closed there's not even anywhere you can buy a drink.

Bev Smiles’ prescient COAL IS OVER! placard, Newcastle 2008
Photo: Sharyn Munro

On the invitation of long-time local anti-coal campaigner Bev Smiles, members of WRVAP attended a meeting convened in the Wollar Memorial Hall on 20 April 2016 to discuss ways in which the townsfolk might get a better deal (or rather, how a really bad deal from an industry now in its death throes, might be sweetened)…

Wollar Memorial Hall

After a number of residents (including Col) have had their say, several of us speak against the mine expansion – about degraded environments, compensation for ravaged social fabric, and mine remediation. Although the meeting is locally framed we feel impelled to emphasise that the extraction and burning of coal is currently destroying not only Wollar’s but the entire planet’s social and environmental fabric. [Only the day before we’d learnt that the corals in Sydney Harbour were bleaching due to dangerously warm ocean temperatures]. After a comfortable night’s sleep @ BIG4 Mudgee we drive back to Wollar next morning to take some photos. In the car we re-visit the complex traumas of coal mining and struggle once again to devise a manner in which we might capture its inhuman face, its incalculable costs within the spaces of a Sydney art gallery. Suddenly I see Col pacing within a cage, a white-maned man/lion neutered by circumstances beyond his control, speaking to (and perhaps growling at) visitors. When we meet him again later that morning I tell Col that we might need HIM for our exhibition, adding ‘but you probably wouldn’t want to come down to Sydney, would you?’. ‘Na’, he drawls, ‘I got outta there’.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Once-promising road trip

Sydney Morning Herald 22.1.16
This afternoon, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that 'On Wednesday and Thursday senior officials were dispatched on a road trip to hear concerns of anti-coal activists.'

'The tour adds to signs that the push to develop coal mines is stalling, and may even face stiff new regulation.'

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Bulga keeps fighting

update: Bulga comes to Sydney 7 August 

update: Wanarua elders face court 15 Sept

update: 'we live on the doorstep of the mine'

update police arrest Wanarua elders Kevin Taggart and Patricia Hansson

update: Bulga protest at Rio Tinto AGM

update: disputed land clearing

Make Some Noise For Bulga Thurs Dec 17th 2015, Macquarie Place Park 
(opposite NSW Planning Dept)
  Sydney. Image Singeton Argus

A rally calling for Justice for Bulga,Thursday 12 November
 outside NSW Supreme Court  Sydney, image: Land Water Future