Coloured Diggers

Place Oceania: Australia
Accession Number ART96531
Collection type Art
Measurement Overall: 66 x 178 cm
Object type Painting
Physical description acrylic on canvas
Maker Albert, Tony
Place made Australia: New South Wales, Sydney
Date made 2013
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Item copyright: AWM Licensed copyright


This four panelled painting explores the social and political legacies of Indigenous military service during the Second World War, and specifically the lack of recognition felt by many following their repatriation. In discussing the social and political inequalities of being an Indigenous soldier during the Second World War, Tony Albert chooses the visual language of a comic strip to discuss one of the most serious of subjects. As Indigenous soldiers they faced a deadly mission, their warrior skills made them deadly to their enemy, and their courage and strength in the face of adversity makes them “deadly” to us. (“Deadly” is an Aboriginal English term meaning “amazing, excellent, talented – simply the best”.)

Tony Albert was born in Townsville, North Queensland in 1981 and holds a Bachelor of Visual Arts from the Queensland College of Art. Albert's practice crosses multiple media including drawing, painting, photography and installation, and focuses on political, historical and cultural issues pertaining to Indigenous people in Australia today. Tony has been the recipient of numerous awards and prizes and his art is held in major public institutions including the Art Gallery of NSW, Art Gallery of WA, Queensland Art Gallery and the Monash University Museum of Art, as well as in private collections internationally.
In 2012 Tony Albert became the Australian War Memorial's first official war artist to deploy with the Army's Regional Force Surveillance Unit, North West Mobile Force (NORFORCE).

Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program 2014