MIL-OSI Australia: ‘For Country, for Nation’ arrives at Wanneroo Gallery


Source: Government of Western Australia

Wanneroo has been chosen to host the Australian War Memorial’s first touring exhibition dedicated exclusively to exploring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories of military service.

For Country, for Nation opens at Wanneroo Gallery on 17 February as finishes its three-year tour around Australia. The City’s gallery is the last opportunity to see the free exhibition in metropolitan WA before it departs for Tasmania.

Wanneroo Mayor Tracey Roberts said it was an honour for the City to be chosen to host the exhibition, which was made all the more special by the inclusion of local stories.

“The City’s rich Aboriginal culture stretches back tens of thousands of years and continues today, so for an exhibition like this to come to Wanneroo it is not only important, it is very relevant to our community,” Mayor Roberts said.

For Country, for Nation is an important recognition of the contribution and sacrifice made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in protecting Australia’s freedom in a global theatre of war.

“First Nations Australians have served in every conflict this country has engaged in and this exhibition is an opportunity to honour and appreciate their service in a cultural context.”

Memorial Director Matt Anderson said For Country, for Nation was one of the most significant exhibitions developed by the Australian War Memorial.

“Over the past three years, For Country, for Nation has travelled great distances to provide an opportunity for people from all backgrounds and experiences to understand, honour and reflect on the service of Aboriginal Australians,” Mr Anderson said.

Jane Murray, Head of Exhibitions at the Australian War Memorial, said For Country, for Nation guided visitors through six different themes designed to tell the story of Australia’s Aboriginal service history.

“Unlike other exhibitions, the stories are told from the perspective of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with many shared through first-person voice,” Ms Murray said.

The exhibition houses 48 works of art by more than 30 artists. Six Australian artists were also commissioned by the Memorial to create works especially for the exhibition.

Local Noongar artist and City of Wanneroo resident, Courtney Hill, has a special connection to the exhibition. The City commissioned a large-scale piece honouring her uncles John, Harold and Roy Hill for the Wanneroo Gallery.

“I always use materials from Country in my artworks and it was particularly important for this piece, titled “Konkee Moortung” (uncles and family),” said Ms Hill.

“The piece features paperbark and emu feathers to represent my family’s totem, and photos of my uncles, John, Harold and Roy in their military uniforms set in boodjar (or earth) from Country.

“My intention is to recognise their bravery, acknowledge their sacrifice, and symbolically bring those who never made it home, back to Country. It’s a tribute to all Aboriginal servicemen and women who fought and gave their lives for Australia.”

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government’s Visions of Australia program with support from International Arts Services Australia.

For more information visit the Australian War Memorial’s website.

Fact file

Perth resident, Lance Corporal John Hill of the 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion, served in the Second World War alongside his brothers, Roy and Harold. John was captured during the fall of Singapore; Roy piloted Lancasters in RAF Bomber Command; and Harold served in HMAS Perth before becoming a prisoner of war and working on the Burma-Thailand Railway.