It was a special day in the office when artist Michael Weir from Sacred Era presented Mayi Kuwayu from the Research School of Population Health, with "Black Anzac", an artwork inspired by Aboriginal gunner Percy Suey, a WWII veteran and prisoner of war. After surviving the horrors of Changi and the Burma railway, Percy returned to Moree where he struggled to deal with ongoing mental trauma and small-town racism. He disappeared without a trace in 1976.
Michael chose to use Percy’s image as he wanted to create art as a conversation starter and encourage people to talk about Australia’s cultural history. His stencil image of Percy Suey is taken from a photograph with one minor adaptation: citing artistic license, Michael changed the shape of Percy’s original diggers’ helmet to that of the US M1 helmet because he thought the shape was cooler.
Born and raised in Queanbeyan, Michael is a Wiradjuri man with mob from Peak Hill in central west NSW. He uses his art and hip-hop music to embrace culture and give young people a positive perspective on Indigenous history.
Michael’s connection with Mayi Kuwayu runs deep. His partner, Georgia Gleeson, was formerly Ray Lovett’s running coach through the Indigenous Marathon Foundation’s Deadly Running Australia program, and Michael had previously worked with MK’s Faye Irwin at the Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre, and mentored her son.
Mayi Kuwayu purchased the painting in recognition of Michael's commitment to improving the lives of youth in community. The painting will be hung in the Mayi Kuwayu hallway.
You can find out more about Michael through his Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/SacredEraClothing/.