I’ve stuck up thousands of posters across Australia to interrogate our national identity. With each, the response has grown. You might expect I have unshakable convictions about social justice, but I don’t. I reject the label ‘activist’. So why do what I do? Maybe it’s time I made sense of my motivations.
Artist Peter Drew wanted a better Australia. In 2013, frustrated at the political discussion around asylum seekers, he put up a poster, commenting on Australia’s offshore detention. What followed was an outpouring of community support, and a national, then global, following for his art.
As Peter’s profile rose, he began to question his beliefs – a struggle that led to destructive behaviour and affected his relationships. When compelled to face a painful family legacy, Peter realised that his behaviour and his motivation to make art shared a common thread: his father. Their relationship had been shaped by an outdated Australian machismo – a mix of bravado, inadequacy and shame that not only affects sons and their fathers, but informs social relations more broadly, including the way we as a nation treat outsiders.
Told with humour, sincerity and an attentive eye, Peter’s story is both intimate and inclusive, drawing a parallel between our personal relationships and Australia’s national narratives. This is a book about family and identity, about the lies we tell ourselves and the past we bury. It is an expedition to be a better citizen of his country.