The Aboriginal history of the world's longest stock route through the deserts of Western Australia is revealed through a remarkable exhibition of contemporary paintings and new media in Yiwarra Kuju: The Canning Stock Route.
Featuring more than 90 vibrant artworks and significant cultural objects, Yiwarra Kuju is a powerful exhibition with a unique Australian story to tell.
Exhibition Co-curator, John Carty, says it is a story that, until now, has been told primarily from a non-Indigenous perspective.
“The Canning Stock Route was used throughout the first half of the 20th Century for droving cattle through 1850km of desert from the Kimberley to the southern goldfields of Western Australia,” he said.
“That one road (‘yiwarra kuju’) has become a frontier narrative about the making of Australia but absent from this history are the voices of those who it impacted the most.”
“For the Aboriginal people of the desert region, the stock route cut through a land already full of story and rich in culture and history,” he said.
“This is the story told in the exhibition, Yiwarra Kuju.”
The exhibition was developed by the National Museum of Australia in partnership with the arts group FORM, which initiated the four-year Canning Stock Route Project that involved artists, traditional custodians and emerging Aboriginal curators and filmmakers from across Western Australia.
Mr Carty says this pioneering collaboration has brought into focus a story of far greater national importance than the stock route itself.
“The exhibition reveals not only an extraordinary perspective on Aboriginal history, and therefore Australian history, but an internationally significant art history as well” he said.
The exhibition also showcases ongoing dynamism and innovations of the next generation of Aboriginal artists through films and pioneering touch-screen technology.
Just like the old people, we are dreaming. We have a new dream with technology. We’re using the newest technology with the oldest culture.
Filmmaker Curtis Taylor, 2010
Australian Museum Assistant Director, Steven Alderton, said this important exhibition offers visitors the chance to experience some truly moving stories while engaging with giant, colourful artworks that will enthrall all ages.
Yiwarra Kuju: The Canning Stock Route is on display at the Australian Museum from 17 December – 29 April 2012.