Over the last decade, the Memorial’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait art collection has been developed through a strategic acquisitions program. There are currently more than 250 artworks created by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists in the National Collection.
The large scale painting Kulatangku angakanyini manta munu Tjukurpa [Country and Culture will be protected by spears] was commissioned in 2017, with 19 senior male artists from Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) lands telling their story of Aboriginal Australians defending Country. This work of art is on display in the Memorial’s foyer, making it one of the first things visitors encounter when they visit the Memorial.
The National Collection also holds works of art produced by the first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander official war artists. Tony Albert (Girramay/Kuku Yalanji) was attached to the Army's Regional Surveillance Force North West Mobile Unit (NORFORCE) in 2012; Badu Island artist Alick Tipoti (Kala Lagaw Ya) was attached to the 51st Battalion, Far North Queensland Regiment in 2016. In 2017, Megan Cope (Quandamooka) was appointed the Memorial’s first Aboriginal official war artist to be deployed overseas.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art collection creates an opportunity for truth-telling, healing, storytelling, and interpretation of the history of military service and experiences of Indigenous Australians, an important part of the Memorial’s mission to commemorate the service and sacrifice of all Australians.
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'Maralinga Bomb' travels to the U.S
The Australian War Memorial Loan Program is excited to be able to send the stunning painting, Maralinga Bomb by Karrika Belle Davidson, to the United States of America for the travelling exhibition Exposure: Native Art and Political Ecology.
The exhibition, which will first feature at Institute of American Indian Arts Museum of Contemporary Native Art in Santa Fe New Mexico, is a co-curated exhibition between iBiennale Director Dr. Kóan Jeff Baysa; Nuuk Art Museum Director Nivi Christensen (Inuit); Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art Chief curator and Vice Director Satomi Igarashi; Art Gallery of New South Wales Assistant Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Erin Vink (Ngiyampaa), independent curator Tania Willard (Secwepemc Nation), and MoCNA Chief Curator Manuela Well-Off-Man.
As described on the exhibition website, Exposure “documents international Indigenous artists’ responses to the impacts of nuclear testing, nuclear accidents, and uranium mining on Native peoples and the environment. The traveling exhibition and catalog give artists a voice to address the long-term effects of these man-made disasters on Indigenous communities in the United States and around the world. Indigenous artists from Australia, Canada, Greenland, Japan, Pacific Islands, and the United States utilize local and tribal knowledge, as well as Indigenous and contemporary art forms as visual strategies for their thought-provoking artworks.”
In October 1956, Karrika Belle Davidson experienced firsthand the consequences of the nuclear testing at Maralinga, a desert region of South Australia. She, among many others, became very unwell and was treated at the Warburton mission. Maralinga Bomb tells of the experiences of Karrika as the bombing occurred.
To learn more about Maralinga Bomb by Karrika Belle Davidson here.
Exposure: Native Art and Political Ecology: Fri, August 20, 2021–Sun, January 23, 2022 (https://iaia.edu/).