‘The Standout’, 2012 by Blak Douglas
Located at Lithgow Mall, Campbelltown
Commissioned by Campbelltown City Council, 2012, this major mural board project installed across the bus shelters of Campbelltown City Railway Station consists of 28 artworks rendered over 70 panels each measuring 150 x 250cm, totaling a full length of 175m.
The Standout pays homage to the Dharawal Dreamtime Story of the ‘Seven Eucalypts’, and Douglas’ previous photographic series of deceased gums standing alone within landscapes and casting shadows within urban facades. Although deceptively simple in composition, within this colourful abstract landscape Douglas considers Precolonial Landscape, Ancestry, Aboriginality, Community and Autobiography.
The artwork greets travellers with a rolling horizon contrasted by strong vertical lines. Using severed branches of a locally sourced fallen gum, Douglas playfully transmutes their shapes across the composition to create a pre-colonial landscape. By introjecting the iconic shapes of the Australian gum tree and the four ceremonial colours of the earth (Red Oxide, Yellow Oxide, Black and White) Douglas sought to bring the bush into the city and establish a ‘spiritual’ presence. Thus, the inherently transitory Railway Station and cityscape (represented by the singular rolling horizon line) are juxtaposed by the strength of nature and the unmoving history of the Dharawal people (represented by the multiple vertical lines).
Besides the multilayered symbolism of the aforementioned elements, key to the artwork is the concept of ‘individuality’. Interspersed amongst the forest of gums is an occasional ‘odd’ coloured line celebrating ‘difference’, giving focus to the marginalized. In this way, Douglas reflects on his own experience as an Artist, champions’ culture, and gives voice to the peoples of South Western Sydney.
Commissioned by Campbelltown City Council, 2012. With special thanks to Transport NSW.
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