In the lead up to COP26, the international climate conference, Andrew and Nicola Forrest, have commissioned local Perth artist, James Giddy  to create a small body of work including the painting of several public artworks, to  “spark conversation” on climate change.

The works focus on two aspects of climate change – The first, indicating that climate change is a global issue, affecting habitat, distribution and phenology of a vast number of species. And secondly, regional Australia, and how the day to day lives and values of Australians will be affected by the 2.7 degrees Celsius temperature rise we currently face.

Artist James Giddy, paints two Little Penguins on an old water-tank at an undisclosed location of regional Western Australia.

James Giddy has made the following statements in relation to the subject matter and inspiration behind the regional works:

“Both of the regional artworks look to the surrounding environments to extend the conversation beyond the painting, and indulge the underlying message that is; climate change will affect everyone, everywhere and it is up to us to resolve this.

Deciding on the different subject matter was a bit of a challenge. I wanted something that instantly spoke ‘climate change’, but also something that was directly relevant to Western Australia. Penguins ended up as a fairly natural decision, the Arctic and Antarctic species are globally recognised as a symbol for climate change, and they are/will be amongst the first species, significantly affected by the rising temperatures. We saw a sample of this on the cover of The Economist a few months ago and there have been numerous other examples over the years. In this design I focused on two of Western Australia’s “Little Penguins,” a species found on penguin island off Rockingham and a number of other headlands and rocky outcrops along the southern coast.

My work often looks to remove a subject from its context, so I figured that bringing a coastal species, in particularly a penguin, into a regional environment, screams that they are lost and in peril. The pair, in their action and body language, are evidently confused and looking for something; a new home. Inserting a penguin into an urban environment would also hold strength in conveying that the species is out-of-context, however the background noise and busy environments would largely distract the audience from giving time-of-day to these black and white critters.”

"For the next work, I knew of, and had permission and access to an abandoned house. With the deteriorating nature of the house, I thought it would be fun to play on time. The notion of the past, present and the future

I visited Simmental bulls as a subject for a painting in this area several years ago. In that image, I painted a landscape within the bulls, creating what appeared to be a window to the fields behind. I thought it would be interesting to re-visit this as a concept but instead of recreating what was behind, I could imagine, and bring forward, what could be there in the future; a positive outlook in a scene of renewable energy and farming in harmony.

The derelict house that hosts the mural, somewhat acts as a symbol of the deteriorating future we are currently facing, whilst the scene within the bull, encourages the future we need to look toward. The reality is that regional Australia will be heavily impacted by the changing climate, yet, with the vast space and exposure to the sun and wind, holds potential to benefit significantly; opportunities in vast renewable energy developments, including solar and wind farms, as well as green hydrogen projects. These opportunities are all prospects for a better future, whilst being platforms to boost jobs, community and the economy of these areas."

A Simmental Bull, painted by artist James Giddy, looking to a renewable future.

These murals aim to bring awareness, and also hope, to Australians, that climate change can be halted and that renewable energy and a commitment to carbon neutrality will bring much needed green investments to regions and people who need it most. 

This "Wheatbelt Project," launched on November 1st, will coincide with the first day of COP26 in Glasgow, where Andrew Forrest and a team from Fortescue Future Industries is part of Australia’s delegation.

A short video documenting James Giddy painting the climate themed murals.

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