‘Imagine my surprise when an officer from Norforce Squadron tells me more or less out of the blue that I’m cleared to join them on a training expedition into remote Aboriginal homelands on Coburg Peninsula – he thought that since I was clearly interested in the country up here it would give a new insight to see parts of it that are closed to the public, and also to meet and get to know the Aboriginal owners. They train young traditional Aboriginal men to carry out the surveillance of the extensive northern coastline. It was a fascinating experience, very rewarding, and it led directly to my visit to East Timor in February 2000, where I found myself as unofficial war artist working with the Darwin-based 5/7 th RAR, the mechanized infantry Battalion.’
(excerpt from interview)
A group of pastel drawings resulted from the invitation for the artist to join Norforce (Darwin Squadron) on a training expedition in March 1999 to Coburg Peninsula, on the north coast of the Northern Territory of Australia. Young Aboriginal men are trained by the Australian Army in surveillance and weapons skills, giving them status in their tribal communities as well as employment. Both traditional and contemporary skills are utilized. Darwin Squadron is one of three squadrons in the region, the others being in East Arnhemland and the Kimberley.