IN a jubilant moment last week organisers of the fundraising exhibition Art is in Our Nature met with members of the Save Westernport committee to hand over $87,000 raised from their campaign in October.
The handover took place at Woolley’s Beach at Crib Point, the site of AGL’s proposed gas import terminal.
The online exhibition was hosted by Silver Leaf Art Box and Merricks General Wine Store.
“It’s been our great privilege to bring this project together and support the important work of the Save Westernport committee and the Western Port community,” exhibition curator Penelope Gebhardt said.
“The exceptional calibre and generosity of artists wanting to be involved, and the keen supporters of the exhibition, highlight the steadfast and widespread opposition to a gas terminal in the internationally significant waters of Western Port.”
The groups have been fighting the proposal for three years based on what they say is its “unacceptable threat to the rich ecological environment of Western Port and the climate more broadly”.
Fifty-four artists participated in the online exhibition from a mixture of local, Melbourne, rural Victoria and interstate locations.
Landscape painter Mary Tonkin described Western Port as a “fragile ecosystem of sea meadows and mangroves” that was home to weedy sea dragons, Australian fur seals, southern right whales, little penguins and migratory birds.
She said it was “no place for a dirty fossil fuel industry”.
Save Westernport president Candy van Rood said the money raised by the art sale would pay for expert witnesses and the legal team from Environmental Justice Australia,
“They are representing the joint environmental groups Save Westernport, Victoria National Parks Association and Environment Victoria and our community in the current environmental effects statement hearings.”
The money would also go towards the groups’ summer campaigns, including a “big paddle out in January”, Ms van Rood said.
The EES hearings are in their 10th and final week and can be seen live at engage.vic.gov.au/crib-point-IAC