Norforce

Tony Albert - Official Artist - Norforce

In 2010 the Australian War Memorial received an anonymous donation to commission an Indigenous artist to record the activities of the Regional Force Surveillance Unit (RFSU) North West Mobile Unit (NORFORCE).
In May 2012 Tony Albert became the Memorial's first Indigenous official war artist, the first deployed with NORFORCE and the first artist to cover the activities of the Australian defence Force on Australian soil since the end of the Second World War. 
Albert was attached to NORFORCE and based at the units' Kangaroo Flats training facility outside Darwin. He observed and participated in the training activities of an intake of young recruits.

Tony Albert (Girramay language group) was born in Townsville, North Queensland in 1981 and holds a Bachelor of Visual Arts from the Queensland College of Art. Albert's practice crosses multiple media including drawing, painting, photography and installation, and focuses on political, historical and cultural issues pertaining to Indigenous people in Australia today. Tony has been the recipient of numerous awards and prizes, and was finalist in both the 2006 and 2007 Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award. His work has been exhibited, most recently, in The Collectors Show: Weight of History, Singapore Art Museum (2013) , Making Change, National Museum of China (2013) and undisclosed: The 2nd National Indigenous Art Triennial (2012) at the National Gallery of Australia. Albert's art is held in major public institutions including the Art Gallery of NSW, Art Gallery of WA, Queensland Art Gallery and the Monash University Museum of Art, as well as in private collections internationally.
Albert was selected on the strength of his artistic practice. A young Indigenous artist with a nationally and internationally significant visual arts career his selection continues the Memorial's program of working with artists of the highest calibre. Furthermore his explorations of themes relating to contemporary Indigenous identity were a match for this commission. Albert's Grandfather Edward "Eddie" Albert enlisted in 1940. As a member of 2/15th of the 9th Division he served in the Middle East before becoming a Prisoner of War in Germany and Italy. His Grandfather's service and post-war experience as an Aboriginal returned serviceman has been an ongoing source of inspiration for Albert.
Albert's new work will enrich the Memorial's collection of contemporary art and specifically its collection of art by Indigenous artists. Currently the Memorial's art collection is comprised of over 36,000 works of which only 12 are by Indigenous artists. Similarly, the activities of NORFORCE and the experience of its soldiers are not well represented in any aspect of the collection.

North West Mobile Unit (NORFORCE) 
Formed in 1981 the North West Mobile Unit (NORFORCE) is one of three specialist infantry units which operate across the north of Australia. NORFORCE's area of responsibility covers 1.8 million square kms -- largest of any army surveillance unit in the world.
Australian Aboriginal soldiers form 60 precent of NORFORCE personnel, and they are recruited predominately from the area they patrol in order to draw on local knowledge. NORFORCE is notable also for the manner in which it has developed deep trust and inter-cultural understanding between remote Indigenous communities and the ADF.
NORFORCE traces its history to the 2/1st Northern Australia Observation Unit, known as 'the Nackeroos', formed in 1942 in the face of the threat of Japanese invasion. 
North West Mobile Unit (NORFORCE) recently celebrated its thirtieth anniversary a significant milestone in the long history of indigenous military service in Australia.