Exhibition with a painting depicting a Wonnarua massacre “postponed”

There’s been uproar after an exhibition by Hunter Valley artist Doug Heslop at Singleton’s Arts and Culture Centre was postponed.

An upcoming exhibition by the artist called One Man Soweth and Another Reapeth on Singleton’s history was scheduled to open this week but has been postponed by Singleton Council. One of the paintings called Wonnarua Massacre 1826 (above), depicts a 19th century Aboriginal massacre the Wonnarua People say occurred at Ravensworth Homestead site.

The homestead is on land mining giant Glencore has earmarked for their Glendell mine extension project.

There is ongoing debate about the massacre at the homestead and whether or not it occurred at the homestead or elsewhere.

Glencore said according to their research it didn’t, but the Wannaruah people say it did.

Singleton Council said in a statement they have been working with the artist on the exhibition that responds to the history of the area.

“Heslop has a strong connection to Singleton as a descendant of Ben Singleton, and a strong point of view as an artist who has undertaken considerable local research.

“The exhibition was to be held in late September this year but has been postponed to allow for further discussion and consultation, particularly with the First Nations community.

“Singleton Arts and Cultural Centre aims to reflect the people, history and stories of our local government area openly, sensitively and inclusively through its exhibitions and programs.”

Initially, NSW Greens Senator David Shoebridge put the blame wholly and solely on Glencore for censoring the painting.

But in a statement to NewFM, the company said they had nothing to do with it.

“There is no basis to any claims that Glencore was involved in the decision by Singleton Council,

“Glencore does not provide financial support to the Singleton Arts and Cultural Centre and has never done so.”

David Shoebridge said there is no doubt the coal industry has a huge influence on the local Council so they had a hand in it whether they like it or not.

“This artwork is showing the violence and the massacre on land Glencore wants to destroy, completely annihilate for an open cut coal mine. I don’t think its a coincidence that this artwork has been silenced by Singleton Council in those circumstances,

“I’d say to Glencore they should acknowledge their economic power and be genuinely honest about the millions and millions of dollars that flow to Council because of planning agreements whenever they get approval for a new mine,

“I’d say to the Council just be honest about this. There was no reason to delay showing this artwork. This is an artwork that is topical at the moment because it tells the truth about a history on a landscape that Glencore wants to destroy, that’s the kind of artwork that should be shown to spark community discussion and spark the kind of inquiry that great art inspires.

“This artwork was commissioned only after the artist spoke to the Wonnarua people and heard their story directly and had the consent of the Wonnarua people to produce the artwork and at the showing last night we had powerful contributions from the local Wonnarua people. This is a history that needs to be told, it can’t be hidden and it shouldn’t be hidden by Council and I’d urge the Council, The Mayor and the GM to review this decision,” said David Shoebridge.

“It would be a crime of the first order to allow it to be destroyed but it is equally a crime to censor this painting.”

Image: David Shoebridge Facebook page