The art gallery of Western Australia’s most important painting, Frederick McCubbin’s Luck, was defaced with the Woodside crest.
The masterpiece, which has been part of the gallery’s collection since 1896 and fetched $3 million a decade ago, was painted with the oil and gas giant’s logo in yellow on Thursday morning.
The incident, which was then filmed, showed the demonstrators raising the indigenous flag on the gallery floor and recognizing the country, before one of the demonstrators taped her hand to the gallery wall.
He believed the work was not seriously damaged in the protest, as the painting was sitting behind a sheet of transparent perspex.
Two artists participated in the work, the last one In a series of acts of art vandalism in Australia and abroad to draw public attention to the climate crisis.
Perth artist and ceramist Joanna Partyka and Ballardong Noongar man Desmond Blurton said in a statement that they defaced the painting to draw attention to the “continuing desecration of sacred Morugoja rock art” by Woodside on the Borup Peninsula, more than 1,200km north of Perth in the Pilbara.
Partyka was arrested at the scene. Blurton left the gallery at the request of the security guards before the police arrived.
“This painting is barely 100 years old,” Blurton said in the statement.
“Woodside is destroying 50,000 years of our culture.”
The statement demanded that the company cease operations in Burrup, as part of a new direct action campaign by a WA-based group called the Disrupt Burrup Hub, which is targeting Woodside.
“Toxic emissions from the Burrup Hub in Woodside are destroying the world’s oldest and largest rock art gallery,” Partyka said in the statement.
Great artists from this region are on display in this gallery. Their home, the country they paint, is now under water [from recent flooding]. Woodside like to put their logo on everything while they sprinkle their toxic emissions all over their sacred rock art. We must stop any further industry in Burrup, or soon there will be no art left.”
Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency of Western Australia (EPA) He advised the state government that the gas development should be extended to North West Shelf at Woodside At Pilbara – arguably Australia’s largest polluting fossil fuel development – for another 50 years to 2070.
Climate activists have warned that it could add more than 4 billion tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.
A statement sent to the Guardian from Woodside said the company respects people’s rights to peaceful and lawful protest.
“Woodside has a proven track record of more than 35 years of safe, reliable and sustainable operations on Murujuga, delivering natural gas to customers in Western Australia and around the world,” the statement said.
“Our environmental approach complies with all applicable environmental laws and regulations and is supported by strong science-based decisions.”
The statement said the peer-reviewed research “has not identified any impacts” on Morugoga rock art from industrial emissions associated with LNG production.
A statement from Western Australian Police said a 37-year-old woman had been taken into custody and was assisting police with the investigation, which was still ongoing.
The Art Gallery of WA has been contacted for comment.