Ronnie Douglas, Brenton Ken, Willy Kaika, Mick Wikilyiri and Ray Ken. APY Men’s collaborative painting 2016 Photography credit Rhett Hammerton 2016

Weapons for the Soldier – A Vincent Namatjira, Anwar Young and Derek Thompson initiative 

Vincent Namatjira (Iwantja Arts), Anwar Young, (Tjala Arts) and Derek Thompson (Ernabella Arts)  are young arts leaders of the APY Lands, who in 2017 developed a bold and meaningful concept for their first major curatorial project. The result is Weapons for the Soldier, a major collaborative exhibition showcasing works by Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists that explore the themes of connection to country, protecting country, weaponry and warfare.

Weapons for the Soldier is a title used by senior Anangu artist Ray Ken in his works about this subject, and Vincent and Anwar are using this title with Ray’s support as they embark on this significant project. To create Weapons for the Soldier, Vincent, Anwar and Derek wanted to connect and work with Anangu and ‘off Country’ artists whose practice has inspired them in a process where their commitment to cultural protocol is maintained. The project also serves as an important opportunity to pay tribute to modern day Anangu soldiers, the senior artists of the APY Lands: Ray Ken, Mick Wikilyiri, Alec Baker, Peter Mungkarai, Mumu Mike Williams, Peppai Carrol, Keith Stevens and Ginger Wikilyiri, whose work will be celebrated in this innovative exhibition.

Weapons for the Soldier is a distinct examination of the themes of weaponry and warfare and aims to provide a unique platform from which to explore diverse perspectives of struggle and survival and deepen our understanding of a shared history. Fighting for Country and deep connection to Country are evocative of both the broader tenets of the ANZAC legacy as well as the distinct position of Indigenous people within Australia who have long fought to maintain cultural strength and pride.

With invited senior artists from the APY Lands joining renowned artists from across Australia, including Tony Albert, Shaun Gladwell, George Gittoes, Danie Mellor, Reko Rennie and Alex Seton, Weapons for the Soldier redefines our notions of the nation’s war history. This exhibition explores the multigeographical and multi-generational fights for land, Country and freedom experienced by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, as well as the Indigenous experience within Australian military history and the long fight to stand their ground and maintain cultural strength and pride.

The exhibition was launched at Hazelhurst Arts Centre in November 2018 before an extensive regional tour throughout Australia in 2019.

Weapons for the Soldier has been supported by the Australian Government’s Anzac Centenary Arts and Culture Fund, Australia Council for the Arts, Arts SA, the Gordon Darling Foundation and Hazelhurst Arts Centre.


SOURCE: APY Art Centre Collective and Araluen Arts Centre