Naidoc art remembers soldiers’ sacrifice

Hamilton Hill artist Sharyn Egan with one of the works, created it to recognise the contributions of Aboriginal people during times of conflict. Picture: Andrew Ritchie. d494317
Hamilton Hill artist Sharyn Egan with one of the works, created it to recognise the contributions of Aboriginal people during times of conflict. Picture: Andrew Ritchie. d494317

THIS Naidoc Week, Sharyn Egan is on a mission to ensure the selfless sacrifice of Aboriginal people in war will be remembered.

The Hamilton Hill artist has unveiled several monuments of remembrance at Cockburn Central’s Yandi Park for the Aboriginal men and women who fell in battle.

Featuring seven, 2m-high cylindrical aluminium drawings supported by posts resembling Aboriginal spears, Ms Egan’s work adorns the new park’s wetland boardwalk.

The drawings depict Aboriginal soldiers from various periods of time, while the 14 different language groups of Noongar culture are represented by a shield.

Ms Egan said the memorial recognised the achievements of Aboriginal people in times of conflict, given their contributions to wars involving Australia had been often overlooked.

“Aboriginal people were taken over to the Boer War, fought there and then left there,” she said.

“In World War I, Aboriginal people weren’t allowed to sign up, so they said they were Maori, Indian, Spanish – they had to lie to get called up.

“There’s a lot more Aboriginal people who were in the war, but they’re not counted because they didn’t say they were Aboriginal.”

Ms Egan said the lack of recognition started as soon as the war ended and been sustained over time, which prolonged the suffering.

“They came back home to the same old racism and discrimination. All the other soldiers got land, but Aboriginal people weren’t even allowed in the pub or RSL to have a drink with their friends,” she said.

“I can’t imagine how depressing that would be. They had just done all these amazing, frightfully scary things, just going to another country was a big step.”

The $145,000 artwork was commissioned by the City of Cockburn and funded through its public art program.

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