Artist, Tony Albert

"I feel that the most powerful artworks relating to war are those that use bold and evocative images to stir strong emotions in visitors. I feel that the scale of the bullets, at 100 times their original size, also lends power of abstraction to this artwork ... and I have chosen to arrange the bullets with some standing and some fallen over, to tell a story."

Thou didst let fall – 'Yininmadyemi'

Aboriginal artist Tony Albert (pictured above) whose family has over 80-years of combined military service will create a public artwork for Hyde Park to honour the sacrifices and bravery of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service men and women.

Mr Albert’s dramatic and “confronting” sculpture work (pictured below) is inspired by his grandfather’s story about himself and 6 soldiers who escaped from a prisoner of war camp in Germany, only to be caught by Italian soldiers who lined them up to be executed.

The Italians shot 3 of the men before realising their mistake – the men were POWs and should have been returned to Germany.

Mr Albert’s artwork is a reminder of how his grandfather and fellow service people were treated differently to their white comrades after the war.

“When service men and women returned to Australia, they were given land for their service.

"However, not only was Eddie and his fellow Aboriginal soldiers not given any land, their land was still being taken away.

“Eddie and fellow Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women defended our country, they were prepared to fall but upon returning to our country, they were left to fall again – ‘yininmadyemi,’ thou didst let fall,” Mr Albert said.

The City of Sydney-commissioned artwork will be installed in Hyde Park South by Anzac Day 2015, to mark the centenary of Australia’s involvement in World War I. The artwork will be composed of 4 standing bullets 7-metres tall to represent those who survived and 3 fallen shells in remembrance of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Author and Wiradjuri woman Anita Heiss will work with Mr Albert to help capture service people’s war stories to inscribe on the bullets.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have served Australia in the military from before the Boer War to the present, but it may never be known how many officially served as ethnic origin was never required to be documented.

The artwork was selected by a panel made up of representatives from the City’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Design Advisory panels, the Eora Journey Public Art Working Group, the Art Gallery of NSW and the Australian War Memorial. The selection followed a competitive and open submission process that attracted proposals from 14 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, which were evaluated by the panel.

Mr Albert’s family are Girrimay, Yidinji and Kuku Yalandji, from Far North Queensland. His grandfather Eddie served in the Australian Army in World War II.

The City's History Unit is calling for current and former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service men and women to share their stories of war and peace for a special oral history project.


Last updated: Monday, 13 January 2014