A major new exhibition, Weapons for the soldier: protecting country, culture and family has opened at the Cowra Regional Gallery.
This major exhibition brings together Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian artists who have made new work to examine complex themes of weaponry, warfare, and protecting land and country.
This ground-breaking project was initiated by the young men of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, Vincent Namatjira, Aaron Ken, Derek Jungarrayi Thompson, Anwar Young and Kamurin Young, with support from senior artists Willy Kaika Burton, Kunmanara (Ray) Ken, Peter Mungkuri, Mumu Mike Williams and Frank Young.
The title Weapons for the soldier has been used over the past 15 years by senior artist Kunmanara (Ray) Ken in his paintings of traditional weaponry.
The exhibition honours the senior men of the APY Lands and their role in passing on knowledge to younger generations, while also making connections with their peers outside the Lands.
The artists from outside the APY Lands who have been invited by the Anangu artists to contribute to this exhibition have all explored similar themes in their art practices, including Australian histories of conflict and protest, of fighting to protect cultural traditions and the land, as well as the personal experience of the soldier.
APY Lands artists involved include Alec Baker, Eric Barney, Willy Kaika Burton, Pepai Jangala Carroll Taylor Cooper, Sammy Dodd, Witjiti George, Rupert Jack, Kunmanara (Brenton) Ken, Kunmanara (Ray) Ken, Maruku Arts & Crafts, Hector Mitakiki, Junior Mitakiki, Kamarin Mitakiki, Kunmanara (Willy Muntjantji) Martin, Peter Mungkuri, Vincent Namatjira, Kunmanara (Jimmy) Pompey, Keith Stevens,| Derek Jungarrayi Thompson, Thomas Ilytjari Tjilya, Bernard Tjalkuri, Ginger Wikilyiri, Mick Wikilyiri,| Kunmanara (Mumu Mike) Williams, Anwar Young, Frank Young,| Kamurin Young, Young men of Amata.
Invited artists include Abdul Abdullah, Tony Albert, Brook Andrew, Lionel Bawden, George Gittoes, Shaun Gladwell, Jonathan Jones, Richard Lewer, Uncle Charles 'Chicka' Madden, Danie Mellor, Steaphan Paton, Ben Quilty, Reko Rennie, Greg Semu and Alex Seton.
The exhibition is an opportunity to honour the distinct position of Indigenous people within Australia who have long fought to maintain cultural strength and pride.
Weapons for the soldier is a touring exhibition by the APY Art Centre Collective and Hazelhurst Arts Centre.
This touring exhibition is supported by the Australian Government's Visions of Australia program.
The project has been supported by the Anzac Centenary Arts and Culture Fund, Australia Council for the Arts, Arts SA, Create NSW, Sutherland Shire Council, and the Gordon Darling Foundation.
Exhibition dates at the Cowra Regional Art Gallery are August 10 to September 26, 2021.