Ben Quilty and Mirra Whale with Not a Creature was Stirring at St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne.
Photograph: Christopher Hopkins for the Guardian
The Christmas tree inside Melbourne’s St Paul’s Cathedral this year will look a bit different – it will be made largely of life vests discarded by refugees en route to Europe.
The politically charged take on the Christmas tradition is the work of the Archibald prize-winning artist Ben Quilty in collaboration with fellow artist Mirra Whale and is entitled Not a Creature Was Stirring.
It may ruffle a few feathers but Quilty is no stranger to controversy. Andrew Bolt accused him of being against Father Christmas and his works have encompassed the environment and human rights and campaigned against the death penalty.
Quilty said he was prompted to work on the issue after he and writer Richard Flanagan visited Lesbos in 2016 at one of the deadliest periods of the seaborne migration crisis.
He felt he had to speak out about what he had witnessed.
“The jackets, every single one of them, was worn by someone.“
There’s a thousand human lives involved and I hope that all of those people survived the crossing, because all of those jackets were on the shore in Lesbos.