• A piece from The Most Gaoled Race on Earth exhibition at The Lock Up in Newcastle. (The Lock Up)Source: The Lock Up
Newcastle's The Lock-Up was the obvious choice for artists Adam Geczy and Blak Douglas latest exhibition.
By
Rachael Hocking

Source:
NITV News
1 Apr 2016 - 3:34 PM  UPDATED 1 Apr 2016 - 3:34 PM

It’s called The Most Gaoled Race on Earth, and it’s not about reconciliation.

That’s one of the many messages in artists Blak Douglas and Adam Geczy latest exhibition.

The confronting title is matched by the art’s setting: Newcastle’s old police station and lock-up.

Blak Douglas, aka Adam Hill, says it was the space that inspired him and Adam to send a powerful message about Indigenous injustice.

“It was constructed in the 1800s, which was pretty much the beginnings of the end, wasn’t it?”

Remarking that on a personal level, “every second blackfella I know has spent time inside.”

Walking through the Lock-Up, Blak Douglas says he wants people to feel the impact of statistics haunting Indigenous Australians.

Indigenous people are 15 times more likely to end up in prison than non-Indigenous Australians. For Indigenous children, it’s 24 times.

Remembering those sobering stats, Mr Douglas built one of his ‘signature’ installations.

Ten pairs of thongs with the Aboriginal flag printed on them, suspended by fishing line, just off the ground in a cell. The piece is called, ‘Hang Ten.’

In another room, nooses in the colours of the Aboriginal flag hang from the roof to illustrate deaths in custody.

“People have been brought to tears,” Mr Douglas says.

He wants people to leave the exhibition "shaking their heads," and better equipped to confront racism in the real world.

“Reconciliation doesn’t sit favourably with me. It’s kind of a nonchalant word.

“This is about the hardcore facts. This is about glorifying the denialism that exists in Australia.”

He hopes to provoke a conversation this weekend during a panel discussion about the exhibition, for the Writers Festival in Newcastle.

The Most Gaoled race on Earth at The Lock-Up in Newcastle runs until April 24, 2016. The Newcastle Writers Festival's panel discussion is on this Saturday, April 2, 2016, at Newcastle City Hall.