A vessel containing Aboriginal artworks including 250 flagpoles painted red was allegedly stolen from Inner West of Sydney a day before the launch of an exhibition led by Aboriginal artistic duo Mad Wings.
Nadine Silva

20 Apr 2021 - 9:55 AM  UPDATED 20 Apr 2021 - 10:03 AM

Police are investigating the alleged theft of a shipping container in Sydney’s Inner West, which stored Aboriginal artworks from the Landscapes exhibition in the Inner West Council’s EDGE Greenway 2021 project.

Officers say 250 flagpoles painted red, 80 wooden wedges, and paint were reported stolen on Sunday morning, forcing the project's two Aboriginal artists to delay their launch on Monday.

Biripi-Chinese artist Jason Wing says Aboriginal flags are among looted goods and “the unique Aboriginal artworks can’t be replaced."

In response to the setback, Mr Wing and Barkindji artist Maddison Gibbs returned to the site to place signs about the theft near the dirt outline of the missing container, linking its alleged theft to the experiences of Aboriginal people in Australia. 

“This incident is indicative of the treatment of Aboriginal people from 1770 to today,” said Mr Wing.

Ms Gibbs was even more devastated by the removal of the placards less than 12 hours after they had been set up. 

Of the multiple shipping containers on-site, the artists say their container was the only one removed.

“Our artworks and daily life are often silenced, but this was the first time our work was removed hours before the opening day of our residency,” Mr Wings said.

Details of their project and the container’s contents were posted on its exterior hours prior to being stolen, according to Mr Wing.

Police say the container was last seen on Lilyfield Rd near Charles St at around 8 pm on Saturday.

The red flagpoles stored in the missing container were purposely designed for last year’s Sydney Festival ‘Proclamation', according to a spokesperson from the Inner West Council.

Mr Wing and Ms Gibbs hope to launch their exhibition on Friday as the council is expected to provide the artists with a new container of alternative items in the coming days.

Police are urging anyone with any information to contact Leichhardt Police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.