Ink in the Lines


Ink in the Lines Videos

Ink in the Lines opened to the public on the 29th of September 202O.
Speakers at the live streamed event included:

Matt Anderson PSM, Director of the Australian War Memorial

Stephanie Boyle, Exhibition Curator

Rob Douma, Tattooist, veteran, and winner of the 2018 Napier Waller Art Prize

Ink in the Line exhibition launch 2020
Watch video

Behind the Lines of Ink

Loss Grief & Commemoration

Many veterans have experienced traumatic or life-changing events followed by a difficult reintegration into civilian society. Challenges to mental and physical health, strained relationships, and navigating administrative and medical bureaucracies occur all too frequently. But these experiences can find positive expression through tattoos that embody profound experiences of loss or transformation, and memorialise lost friends.


Some tattoos are only possible once their wearers have accepted the past and moved on. Pride in service plays a big role, and important memories may be acknowledged, honoured, and transformed. These tattoos represent goals, mantras, and records of experience. They start conversations. Talking about tattoos means talking about experiences; for many, this is an essential part of the healing process.

Identity and Belonging

Many veterans use tattoos to identify themselves as part of a group or community. Whether the tattoo replicates the “Skippy Badge”, a Regimental mascot, a ship they served on, their service medals, or a set of dog tags, the veteran proclaims their pride in being a service or ex-serviceperson, and consolidates their service related memories and experiences in their tattoo.

Mateship & Family

Veterans often have one set of tattoos dedicated to their family at home, of parents, partners and children, and another set for their military family. Distinguishing between these types of tattoos can be impossible, because in the life of the veteran, each family supports the other. The importance of family and friends, whether at home or away, can be vital.

Bill's Story

Chris's Story

James's Story

Newton's Story

Rebecca's Story

Rob's Story

Ink in the Lines
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