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Nothing's as precious as a hole in the ground
, 2001

by eX de Medici

mangrove bark pigment, watercolour and gouache on vellum (frame: 144.0 cm x 199.7 cm, sheet: 113.5 cm x 179.5 cm)

Members of the future Midnight Oil began playing together in Sydney in 1972, calling themselves Farm. After performing as Farm for some time, in 1976 they changed their name to Midnight Oil and began to carve their live career along the northern beaches. From the start, the Oils’ songs aggressively addressed social concerns such as the environment, uranium mining and Aboriginal rights. In 1987 they released their eighth album, Diesel and Dust, which sold more than two million copies world-wide. It included the hit ‘Beds are Burning’, performed provocatively at the close of the 2000 Olympics. Martin Rotsey, Rob Hirst, Peter Garrett, Jim Moginie and Bones Hillman effectively disbanded in December 2002, when Garrett became President of the Australian Conservation Foundation. From 2004 to 2013, while Labor member for the Federal seat of Kingsford Smith, Garrett was minister for the environment, heritage and the arts and school education, early childhood and youth. In March 2009, when Midnight Oil reunited to play in undimmed form in Canberra and Melbourne, one reviewer spoke for many fans in stating that they were ‘the best live band Australia has ever produced, hands down’. The band’s successful ‘Great Circle’ world tour of 2017 comprised more than 70 shows across five continents.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Commissioned with funds from the Basil Bressler Bequest 2001
Accession number: 2001.192.1