A new exhibition featuring some of Australia's most important Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists opened at the Bega Valley Regional Gallery (BVRG) in Bega last week.
Weapons for the Soldier brings together 41 important artists who have made new work to examine complex and varied responses to weaponry, warfare, and their connection to protecting land and country.
Twenty-seven of the artists are from the art centres of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunyjatjara (APY) Lands of central Australia, while the 14 invited artists are some of Australia's most important Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists including Ben Quilty, George Gittoes, Shaun Gladwell, Alex Seton, Jonathan Jones and Danie Mellor.
Weapons for the Anangu Soldier is a subject that senior APY artist Ray Ken has explored in his paintings throughout his career.
With his permission and encouragement, along with the support of other senior men who often paint weapons and stories of conflict, the young Indigenous Australian artists have explored what it means to be a soldier today and to fight to protect your land and culture.
BVRG director Iain Dawson said fighting for country and a deep connection to country are recurrent themes that are explored throughout the exhibition, evocative of both the broader tenets of the ANZAC legacy and the distinct position of Indigenous people within Australia.
"The exhibition and these vitally important themes have resonated with audiences across Australia and we are very much looking forward to dialogue being fostered here in the Bega Valley," Mr Dawson said.
"Those attending the exhibition will experience works that promote conversations 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 Soldieropened last week will run to February 8.