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Aboriginal Anzacs remembered through art

Thursday, 21 April 2016

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A new art exhibition at Joondalup Campus highlights the stories of the WA Aboriginal servicemen who served during World War I.

They Served with Honour: An Exhibition marks this year’s ANZAC Centenary 2015 – 2018 commemorations. It also recognises the 2016 National Reconciliation Week message: Our History, Our Story, Our Future.

The exhibition is a joint collaboration between ECU and the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and draws upon the book They Served With Honour: Untold Stories of WA Servicemen at Gallipoli.

“The book brings to light the unknown stories of 13 Western Australian Aboriginal servicemen who served at Gallipoli,” ECU Art Collection Curator Sue Starcken said.

“Within the exhibition photographs of these soldiers and audio from some of the family interviews will be set alongside works from the ECU Art Collection, including work from Nyoongar artists Peter Farmer, Troy Bennell and Ben Pushman.

“We are also very excited to unveil a new painting by Peter Farmer commissioned for the exhibition.”

Painting has special meaning

Peter Farmer said he felt greatly honoured and privileged when asked to paint a piece for this exhibition.

“I am a proud descendant of Kenneth Farmer who served in the First and Second World Wars for Australia,” Mr Farmer said.

“His brothers Larry, Lewis and Augustus Pegg served in both wars as well; and his sisters served in the women’s auxiliary armed forces also.

“Thank you for choosing my hands to paint their story,” he said.

About the painting

Mr Farmer said his artwork is symbolic of the 13 Aboriginal soldiers featured in the book They Served With Honour, that represented their country.

“They are signified with the 13 poppies,” he said.

“The lines represent the many roads and paths they travelled; and in the middle are hills and fields where the poppies appeared.

“The figure in the middle is the unknown Aboriginal soldier (Eternal Flame), that had no name until this century,” Mr Farmer said.

They Served with Honour: An Exhibition opens on Wednesday, 27 April, 2016 at Edith Cowan University Art Gallery, Building 1, 270 Joondalup Drive, Joondalup. The exhibition is open to the public from Thursday, 28 April until Wednesday, 22 June. Opening hours are Monday to Friday 10.00am – 4.00pm.

You can download They Served With Honour: Untold Stories of Western Australian Aboriginal Servicemen at Gallipoli via The Department of Aboriginal Affairs website.

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