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This Artist Is Raising Awareness Of Indigenous Anzacs Through Street Art

"Black Anzac" is a powerful mural series.

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WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are warned that the following contains images of deceased persons.

The series started last year with one image on The Block in Redfern, portraying Alfred Cameron Jnr, of the 3rd Light Horse Regiment.

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Hego told BuzzFeed News the initial inspiration came from the poem "Black Anzac" by Cecil Fisher, and after some further research, he got permission for his mural and chose Cameron as a subject.

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In March, Hego created another mural featuring Cameron along with other Indigenous soldiers, in the small South Australian town of Meningie. (Watch a timelapse of the installation here.)

Hego

"I always wanted to put Alfred ‘in country’, from the surrounding area where his tribe was from," Hego told BuzzFeed News. "I then thought it'd be a great opportunity to not only highlight Alfred Cameron Jnr's story, but also the many other stories of local Aboriginal soldiers I've since come across, of their service and sacrifice and discrimination... A local resident gave permission for me to paste up on her wall and I got permission from 18 different families [relatives of the soldiers depicted]."

Hego said he hopes this mural and the others in his series will make more Australians aware of the experiences of Indigenous soldiers in WWI.

Hego

"Not just perpetuating the cult of the Anzac legend, but more their unique personal experiences, volunteering to fight for a country that was so blatantly racist and discriminatory to their population," Hego told BuzzFeed News.

"I've come across stories of many Aboriginals being let off in Sydney and having to pay their own way back to their hometown. A soldier, George Karpany, was recommended for a Victoria Cross for bravery by his Australian officer, only to be knocked back by the British higher ups because he was Aboriginal. I came across the story of another soldier called Arthur Walker, whose family has since called one male from each subsequent generation ‘Anzac’ to honour his contribution fighting for Australia while not being allowed to have a beer with his mates on Anzac Day because of the colour of his skin.

"These are just some of the stories from the handful of soldiers I've recognised in the mural. My goal with my murals is to start a conversation amongst Australians about how we choose to recognise Aboriginal Australian experiences, not only in WWI but across all of modern Australia’s history."

Hego's latest mural, installed this week once again on The Block in Redfern, highlights Frederick Prentice, who was awarded the Military Medal "for great courage" during the battle of Pozieres in 1916.

A documentary following Hego's journey and focusing on the stories of Indigenous soldiers is currently in the works. You can watch the teaser trailer below.

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