Protesters Spray Energy Company's Logo on Iconic Artwork at Art Gallery of Western Australia

Protesters said they spray-painted an iconic Australian painting at an art gallery in Western Australia on January 19, in opposition to a major gas project on the Burrup Peninsula.

This footage, filmed by protest group Disrupt Burrup Hub, shows two people in front of Frederick McCubbin’s 1889 painting ‘Down on His Luck’ at the Art Gallery of Western Australia.

Joana Partyka sprayed the artwork with the logo of energy giant Woodside in protest of the company’s Burrup Hub gas development, Australia’s biggest new fossil fuel project.

Partyka said the project would release toxic emissions that would threaten 50,000 years worth of Indigenous culture.

Ballardong Noongar man Desmond Blurton then unfurled an Aboriginal flag on the floor of the gallery before speaking. “This painting is barely 100 years old,” he said. “Woodside is destroying 50,000 years of our culture.”

In a Facebook post, Disrupt Burrup Hub said that the “artwork is protected by clear plastic sheeting and was not damaged in the protest.” Credit: Disrupt Burrup Hub via Storyful

Video transcript

DESMOND BLURTON: This is [INAUDIBLE] I pay my respects to my elders and my ancestors. As I stand here today, I've learned that the sacred to our people is being destroyed in Western Australia. Woodside Petroleum is the largest fossil fuel project in Australia.

They are destroying ancient [INAUDIBLE] We demand no industry on the Burrup. We must protect our cultural heritage and outlook now. This painting is barely 100 years old. We have 50,000-year-old artwork that Woodside is destroying.

JOANA PARTYKA: Woodside Burrup have projects directing threatening Australia's oldest [INAUDIBLE] art gallery in the world. The project also destroying the planet. We know that the Woodside Burrup [INAUDIBLE] will emit 6 billion tons CO2 by 2070, which 12 times Australia's current national [INAUDIBLE]. It makes meeting international climate change obligations impossible.

And we're already seeing the impact of these decisions being made in Australia, here in [INAUDIBLE]. In Kimberly, they've experienced unprecedented flooding, which has essentially cut off some of the most vulnerable communities from the rest of us, communities in which some artists who have worked in this very gallery lived, artists who work in the country, who [INAUDIBLE] country, who depict country in their work. That country is now currently underwater.

Woodside is happy to slap its logo on everything, from-- how do you slap this logo on everything, including some of our most significant cultural institutions in this country, particularly in WA, while they spray toxic emissions on sacred [INAUDIBLE] art, which is also irreplaceable. We must start more industry on the Burrup and we must disrupt Burrup Hub now, before it is too late and before we lose irreplaceable rock art.