Ink in the Lines

Gallery space ink in the lines AWM

The Australian War Memorial has opened a new exhibition: Ink in the Lines. As the name suggests, it’s about tattoos– a topic that even today still seems slightly taboo. Though everyone is entitled to their own personal opinions on tattoos, sometimes it helps to understand why people choose to permanently draw on their skin. 

The Memorial is using this exhibition as an opportunity to tell people’s personal stories and experiences in the military and to highlight the common unifying purpose for getting “inked”– to remember. 

For many of the exhibition’s participants, their tattoos are a way of either preserving their own memories or showing respect for the service and sacrifice of their loved ones. 

Memorial photographic curator Stephanie Boyle, who throughout 2019 collected the stories of Australia’s servicemen and servicewomen, sees tattoos as the veterans’ identities inscribed on their skin.

“I hope this exhibition helps visitors engage with Australian military in a way they probably haven’t before, and see that everyone has an important story to tell and that some stories can be written on skin,” Ms Boyle said. 

Ink in the Lines is on display in the Special Exhibitions Gallery until 27 January 2021. 

Head to the Memorial website at and book a Galleries and Commemorative Area ticket, which includes access to Ink in the Lines and the 2020 Napier Waller Art Prize.

Photographer: Bob McKendry AWM2019.289.795


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