A group of artists and arts workers calling themselves the Artists’ Committee has today stepped up its protest against the National Gallery of Victoria over its contract with Wilson Security.
Red dye was poured into the large moats surrounding the front of the NGV building on St Kilda Road, and also into the famous “water wall” at the gallery’s entrance. The group released a statement ensuring the public that the dye was safe and not going to cause any permanent damage to the gallery’s facade.
— WACA (@akaWACA) October 14, 2017
Wilson was appointed as an interim security contractor for the gallery in late July this year, and by early August 1500 members of the arts community had signed a letter to NGV Director Tony Ellwood asking him to drop the security company over its involvement in offshore detention centres in Manus and Nauru.
The letter said that Wilson has been “violently enforcing the imprisonment of refugees and people seeking asylum in Australia’s offshore immigration detention centres” since it was appointed security provider to those centres in 2012.
The group pointed to Guardian Australia’s investigation titled the Nauru Files, which uncovered extensive allegations of physical and sexual abuse.
Ellwood responded soon after, advising that Wilson was an interim contractor selected from the Victorian Government security services panel. The company had been appointed following allegations that former provider BRI Security had paid cash in hand to its security guards.
Ellwood said the gallery would be appointing a long-term security provider later this year following a public tender process, and thanked the committee for voicing concerns of the artistic community.
The Artists’ Committee held another protest last Friday, when a group of protesters entered the gallery and covered the NGV’s popular Picasso painting “Weeping Woman” with a black veil emblazoned with the Wilson Security logo.
Wilson Security will no longer provide services to Nauru or Manus when its contract ends this month. The company said last year that the contract was no longer in line with its strategic priorities.