About Hego, Tim Anastasi and the birth of the Black Anzac Documentary
In 2014 nationally renown artist, Hego, revealed his penultimate artwork to date, a documentary about a street mural project that featured Ramindjeri man Private Alfred Cameron Junior.
Hego was inspired by Cecil Fisher’s 1933 poem titled ‘Black ANZAC’ which describes the plight of the unknown Black Soldiers of World War 1. It was Cecil’s poem which inspired Hego to start his Mural project. Hego was already working with Tim Anasti on another street art project when he invited him to chronicle the process of developing this Mural and turn this into a documentary.
Here is Cecil Fishers Poem;
They have forgotten him, need him no more
He who fought for his land in nearly every war
Tribal fights before his country was taken by Captain Cook
Then went overseas to fight at Gallipoli and Tobruk
World War One two black Anzacs were there
France, Europe’s desert, New Guinea’s jungles, did his share
Korea, Malaya, Vietnam again black soldier enlisted
Fight for democracy was his duty he insisted
Back home went his own way not looking for praise
Like when he was a warrior in the forgotten days
Down on the Gold Coast a monument in the Bora Ring
Recognition at last his praises they are starting to sing
This black soldier who never marches on ANZAC Day
Living in his Gunya doesn’t have much to say
Thinks of his friends who fought some returned some died
If only one day they could march together side by side
His medals he keeps hidden away from prying eyes
No one knows, no one sees the tears in his old black eyes
He’s been outcast just left by himself to die
Recognition at last black ANZAC hold your head high
Every year at Gold Coast’s Yegumbah Bora Ring site
Black ANZAC in uniform and medals a magnificent sight
The rock with Aboriginal tribal totems paintings inset
The Kombumerri people’s inscription of LEST WE FORGET
About Private Alfred Cameron Junior – The Visual centrepiece of the Artwork
After being inspired by Cecil’s poem, Hego looked for a candidate for his street mural, he came across Uncle Peter Cameron, and his wife Aunty Meryl, both of whom are knowledge holders for their tribes. After extensive research and consulting with Uncle Peter and Aunty Meryl, Hego and Tim choose Alfred and begin bringing Private Alfred Cameron’s image to something larger than life. Backed with the power of Cecil Fisher’s poem and the striking image of a Ramindjeri soldier this documentary finally came to life.
Hego was also quite strategic about whereabouts in Redfern he wanted to post his mural of Private Alfred, here is a quote from Hego taken from theguardian.com which explains why and where this location was chosen.
The whole point of putting the mural right outside The Block without any explanatory text was that it was facing the main pathway from Redfern Station to Sydney uni where about 5,000 students walk each and every day. I wanted the mural … to start a conversation and strategically I start it with the next generation of Australia’s leaders.
About the Meningie Mural and Private Arthur Thomas Walker
The Meningie Mural also featured another relative of Private Alfred Cameron Junior and Uncle Karno Walker, Private Arthur Cameron Walker. His image was a larger than life Cameo right next to the figure of Private Alfred Cameron Junior. The Meningie Mural remained a centre point for Meningie’s Annual Anzac Day service for both black and white alike.
Black Anzac Documentary and artwork – A beautiful example of Wirritjin in action
As an artist Hego knows about the importance of listening before telling a story, and listen he did, with deep respect, to the elders of the First Nation communities he dealt with in the Coorong of South Australia, and in Redfern, Sydney, Australia. The end result being one of the most perfect examples of a Wirritjin Project ever seen. A beautiful example of Blackfella and Whitefella working wirritjin together to celebrate a little known aspect of Australian World War One history, that up until then had never been explored or celebrated before.
Hego worked with Elders such as Uncle Peter and Aunty Meryl Cameron in the Coorong, Pastor Ray Minniecon, founder and organiser of the annual Coloured Diggers March in Redfern. Committee member for this project, Uncle Colin Watego also of Sydney features briefly in this documentary.
Thanks to Hego, and the inspiration of the late Poet Cecil Fisher, the image of Private Alfred Cameron Junior, and his work with elders such as Uncle Peter, Aunty Meryl, and Uncle Ray, this project is one of the two shining beacons of Warrior Spirit that emerged in 2014, the other being the Army’s Honouring Warrior Spirit Documentary.
Hego Black Anzac’s example of many Wirritjin and Mum:o:wee projects popping up. Honour him and the director as well as Private Alfred Cameron Junior, Uncle Peter and Aunty Meryl
Coloured Diggers March, Black ANZAC, and Honouring Warrior Spirit – Forging a new National Warrior Identity
Starting with Pastor Ray Minniecon’s Coloured Diggers March in 2006, Hego’s Black Anzac and Sergeant John Angel Hands Honouring Warrior Spirit in 2014 we are starting to see the forging of a new beginning of a Warrior Identity for First Nations people.
Uncle Karno and Uncle Peter, Aunty Meryl Mansfield, Aunty Christine Walker, Aunty Unbulara, Uncle Colin Watego and the Ramindjeri Nation are proud to have played an active role in these projects.
A memorial page also has been built to honour the passing of Uncle Peter Mansfield which can be viewed here.