APY Lands Artists: Alec Baker | Eric Barney | Willy Kaika Burton | Pepai Jangala Carroll | Taylor Cooper | Sammy Dodd | Witjiti George | Rupert Jack | Kunmanara (Brenton) Ken | Ray Ken | 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 | Mumu Mike Williams | Anwar Young | Frank Young |Kamurin Young | Young men of Amata
Invited Artists: Abdul Abdullah | Tony Albert | Brook Andrew | Lionel Bawden | George Gittoes | Shaun Gladwell Richard Lewer | Uncle Charles ‘Chicka’ Madden and Jonathan Jones | Danie Mellor | Steaphan Paton | Ben Quilty | Reko Rennie | Greg Semu | Alex Seton
The tjilpies [senior men] from the APY Lands have spent their lives protecting Tjukurpa [Culture], Country and family. For Anangu this is the most important thing. From working with other artists we have found that there is common ground here. Connection to Country and protecting Country is something that artists from all over Australia make work and share stories about. This has become the heart of the project.
Frank Young, Chairman APY Lands Executive Board
Weapons for the soldier was a project initiated by the young men of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunyjatjara (APY) Lands, Vincent Namatjira, Aaron Ken, Derek Thompson, Anwar Young and Kamurin Young, with support from senior artists Willy Kaika Burton, Ray Ken, Peter Mungkuri, Mumu Mike Williams and Frank Young. The title resonated with great force for the young Anangu men who initiated this groundbreaking curatorial project. It is a subject that senior APY artist Ray Ken has explored in his paintings throughout his career, and with his permission and encouragement, along with the support of other senior men who often paint weapons and stories of conflict, these younger men explored what it means to be a soldier today and to fight in order to protect your land and all it entails.
For this exhibition, Vincent and the young men connected with other Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists who they saw as peers. They decided to work on a project where they could connect with artists who have inspired them, on their terms, in a process where their commitment to cultural protocol was maintained. Vincent and the young men had each already examined war themes in their work to date: Vincent painting oft-overlooked Indigenous soldiers and Anwar and Kamurin Young committed to developing high level expertise in traditional weapons and working with other young men across the Lands to create a new iteration of the ongoing Kulata Tjuta [Many Spears] project which was initiated by senior artists Willy Kaika Burton, Kunmanara (Hector) Burton, Ray Ken, Kunmanara (Barney) Wangin, Mick Wikilyiri and Frank Young in 2010. This project offered an opportunity to hear Indigenous voices and to honour the tjilpies of the APY Lands.
Fighting for Country and deep connection to Country are recurrent themes that will be explored, 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.
Developed during the ANZAC Centenary, the exhibition and these universal themes resonated among audiences across Australia. Weapons for the soldier fostered dialogue around multi-geographical and multigenerational fights for land, Country and freedom experienced by Australians, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, as well as the Indigenous experience in Australian military history.
Weapons for the soldier was developed by the artists of the APY Lands and the APY Art Centre Collective in partnership with Hazelhurst Arts Centre.
Weapons for the soldier was supported by the Australian Government’s Anzac Centenary Arts and Culture Fund, Australia Council for the Arts, Arts SA and the Gordon Darling Foundation.