A new mural by Sydney-based Dunghutti artist Blak Douglas has pride of place in the central stairwell of Koskela’s new Sub Base Platypus store in North Sydney.
Installed at Koskela’s new headquarters in North Sydney, ‘Signed Stone country’ is a new mural by Dunghutti artist and 2022 Archibald Prize winner Blak Douglas.
Adam (Blak) Douglas is an artist from Western Sydney with Dunghutti and Irish heritage who paints with a graphic style on social justice issues central to his identity and community. In 2022, he won the Art Gallery of NSW’s Archibald Prize for his painting of Wiradjuri artist Karla Dickens carrying buckets with water and up to her knees in floodwaters during the Lismore floods of early 2022.
‘Signed Stone country’ was designed and made prior to Douglas’s Archibald Prize win, and pays homage to the Cammeraygal people who are the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which Koskela is based.
The mural depicts a variety of water creatures as black outlines on cracked ochre. These motifs are inspired by the Cammeraygal people’s “Mullet Dreaming” and the Cadigal people’s “Whale Dreaming”.
The cracked texture represents the sandstone escarpments that can be found locally. “The cracking effect is recognizable as one of Adam’s styles,” says Koskela First Nations Impact Specialist Zoe Sims. “If you look at his portraits, that is a signature of his, something that’s truly, authentically him.”
Over the top of the cracked ochre and sea creatures is a large neon sign in pink cursive that reads “Cammeraygal”, while next to that, a weathered metal sign reads “Country”. These 20th and 21st century materials were chosen to contrast with the timeless quality of the ochre and fish design, representing how we exist concurrently the old with the new.
The large wall of the stairwell was earmarked for a mural by Blak Douglas right from the very beginning of Koskela’s move to the building, says Sims: “It is a really large installation that is a central reminder to think about country and acknowledge what land you’re on. It’s a visual that shows what we can offer, creating beautiful and meaningful projects working with First Nations artists.”
The Koskela team are thrilled with the final result, a mural that has a big impact and tells a story of country and of Koskela’s commitment to working with First Nations artists and makers. “When we have a meeting here, we encourage the clients to go for walks in the coastal areas, to go and be curious and engage with First Nations culture in your own time,” says Sims.
Written by Penny Craswell
Douglas delivers the artwork in his hot wheels. Artist Blak Douglas with Koskela's Project & Product Leader, Kamelia Halim (left), and First Nations Impact Specialist, Zoe Simms (right).
Douglas delivers the artwork in his hot wheels.
Artist Blak Douglas with Koskela's Project & Product Leader, Kamelia Halim (left), and First Nations Impact Specialist, Zoe Simms (right).
Artist statement by Blak Douglas, 2022
‘Signed Stone Country’ acknowledges the clan of the Northern shoreline, the Cammeraygal peoples and the home of Mullet Dreaming. This installation pays respects to the artisans whom left us with some of the richest body of petroglyphs in the Southern hemisphere. Their cousins from the Southern shoreline, the Cadigal are custodians of ‘Whale Dreaming’; hence the combination of the two as dominant motifs within this composition.
The purposefully cracked patina upon the boards represents the impressive sandstone escarpments lining the foreshore. The illuminated neon signage celebrates our modern existence upon a Country now rife with this form of branding. A signature or corporate identity which is essentially a modern rock carving or hand stenciled cave.