Tony Albert is a Girramay man and an artist who is creating a large public sculpture in Sydney’s Hyde Park to memorialise the Indigenous contribution to Australia’s armed forces. This interview is part of the ‘Honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men and Women Who Have Served Their Country’ project. In his interview Tony talks about his family’s connection with the Services; his training, mentors, and experiences in art; and his plans for the sculpture which will consist of large scale upright and fallen ‘bullets’. In the excerpt below Tony discusses his hopes for the artwork and the symbolism it will embody.
The tentative title for it is: ‘Thou didst let fall’ and I chose that title; I thought it was quite poetic of representing the fallen soldiers, the men who survived but on return to this country were left to fall again. And I think that the overall respect of it all is that when service men and women returned to this country they were given land as settlement and Aboriginal people were not given that land, they were in fact still getting their land taken off them. So the aftermath of war is something that I think needs to be recognised, and that I felt really needs to come through in the memorial as well, that this is an ongoing issue. The bullets themselves are representative of that story of the fallen soldiers, and the materials they’re made out of, the fallen shells, are Corten [a kind of steel] which kind of has this earthly look to it and it kind of bleeds, the material bleeds in itself, so around the ground of where the fallen bullets are the landscape will actually change colour and it’s like they’re almost going back into the ground. And the site itself is surrounded by the massive fig trees. There’s a hope that the bullets will almost take on this organic kind of feeling as well, like they’re growing out of the earth.