Official war artist to join NORFORCE
The artist Tony Albert visited the Australian War Memorial this week in preparation for his commission as the Memorial’s official artist attached to the North West Mobile Force (NORFORCE).
Albert will be issued with uniform and field equipment on his arrival in Darwin, and then join a group of new recruits on an intensive two-week training course, so that he can observe what it takes to be a soldier in this unique and vital Australian Defence Force unit. The training involves weapons handling, navigation, bush survival, and signalling – everything to ensure the unit can operate safely and efficiently when out on patrol across the isolated coastline of Northern Australia.
Albert is in town to oversee the installation of his work at the National Gallery of Australia as one of twenty artists exhibiting in unDisclosed: 2nd National Indigenous Art Triennial. He was keen to find out more about NORFORCE’s origins in the Second World War.
NORFORCE was formed in 1981, but traces its history to the 2/1st North Australia Observer Unit, known as “the Nackeroos”. They were formed seventy years ago this week, on 11 May 1942, in the face of the threat of Japanese invasion.
Albert has his own family history of service. His grandfather Edward “Eddie” Albert enlisted in 1940 and served in the Middle East before becoming a prisoner of war. His grandfather’s service and post-war experience as an Indigenous returned serviceman have been an ongoing source of inspiration for Albert.