An Aboriginal artist 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.
Tony Albert’s sculpture work will feature four seven-metre tall, oversized bullets among three large-scale fallen shells to represent the diggers who lost their lives.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore 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.
“Tony has created a powerful and emotionally-moving work that stems from his family’s military experiences and represents the many stories of our brave Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service men and women abroad and at home,” she said.
Mr Albert said the artwork was composed of four standing bullets to represent those who survived and three fallen shells in remembrance of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
“I feel that the most powerful artworks relating to war are those that use bold and evocative images to stir strong emotions in visitors,” Mr Albert said.
“In a similar vein, I feel that the scale of the bullets, at 100 times their original size, also lends the power of abstraction to this artwork.
“I have chosen the very confronting image of the bullet as it is a universal signifier for conflict, and I have chosen to arrange the bullets with some standing and some fallen over, to tell a story.”
Mr Albert’s grandfather Eddie served in the Australian Army during World War II. Eddie and six soldiers escaped from a prisoner of war camp in Germany, only to be caught by Italian soldiers who lined them up side-by-side to be executed.
Three men were shot before the Italian soldiers realised their mistake – the men were POWs and should have been returned to Germany.
General Peter Cosgrove AC MC (Rtd) and Chair of the NSW Centenary of Anzac Advisory Council said he was deeply moved by Tony’s story.
“The memorial will recognise the service of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who participated in the Great War but also their families who supported those who returned,” he said.