Recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander veterans

This morning, I announced Tony Albert as the artist who will create a major new public artwork in Hyde Park to honour the sacrifices and bravery of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service men and women.

The artwork is one of seven major public art projects to be completed as part of the City's Eora Journey, a visionary project that celebrates the living culture of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in Sydney.

Tony is an accomplished Aboriginal artist whose family has over 80 years of combined military service. Made of black marble and steel with a bronze finish, his artwork will feature four standing bullets to represent those who survived, and three fallen shells in remembrance of those who lost their lives.

Tony's design is inspired by his family's military experiences, including his grandfather's service in the Australian Army during World War II. He will work in collaboration with author Anita Heiss to inscribe text onto the artwork which captures stories and experiences from the community. Cracknell Lonergan Architects will support Tony to deliver his artwork.

Tony's design for the memorial is undoubtedly confronting - as war is confronting.

If it proves controversial, it's worth remembering that the Anzac Memorial - that extraordinary sculptural work that is now so much a part of our city - was also controversial when it opened in the 1930s, with some critics going so far as to say its realism was 'blasphemous'.

The great and enduring works of art are rarely comfortable; they provoke thought, stir emotion, confront us with real and difficult issues.

When we announced the Eora Journey project, we were determined that it would not be a tokenistic gesture, but a series of important art works at significant locations across the City.

This work fulfils that promise. It is part of the reconciliation process, and a powerful reminder of the undying connection between the first people and this land that we all now share.

The artwork will be installed by Anzac Day 2015, to mark the centenary of Australia's involvement in World War I. It will be located in Hyde Park South on an axis from the ANZAC Memorial and the Hyde Park Obelisk on Elizabeth Street.

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