Route Canal depicts an abstract First Nations map featuring the clans of the ‘Sydney’ basin represented by the blue and green circles. The brown and yellow ochre squares reference the local sandstone country. The grey linear pattern symbolises the ‘route’ or intentional journey that the canal has taken from being a creek in history to a canal in modernity, as well as reflecting on the journey of the viewers, passing by on their cars on the way to a destination.
This linear pattern also represents the concrete canal, that has abrasively replaced the organic and spiritual formations of the natural adjacent waterway, Shea’s Creek. The red ochre motifs are the local Gadigal family groups camped along the route of the creek. This art activation starts from the bottom of the walls to echo the contemporary urban street art culture. The negative space left around the design elements is important to highlight the building itself and the layered history of the site.
Blak Douglas is a contemporary artist with proud Dhungutti Aboriginal origins. His works are culturally and politically charged, with a sense of sarcasm and a unique vision of Australia’s history and current social inequities. Blak Douglas is a four-time Archibald Prize finalist and winner of the Archibald Prize in 2022.