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'Kiriwirri' by Jan Billycan, 2008


'Kiriwirri' by Jan Billycan, 2008

Object information


"Kiriwirri, round one jila. Living water. I born Kiriwirri. All brother and sister born Kiriwirri." (Jan Billycan)

This painting represents the tali (sandhills), jila (waters) and warla (salt lakes) in the Country surrounding the artist's birthplace. Kirriwirri is a Jila (spring) in the Percival Lakes area of the Great Sandy Desert, just west of the Canning Stock Route. This work shows tali (sand dunes) and jila (living water). "This is the birthplace of my father's clan. Our clan is called Kirriwirri and every person in our clan is called Kiriwirri by other people. There is a big warla (mud flat) at this place. This is what this painting is about." (this narrative content supplied by Short St Gallery)

Physical description

An orange toned painting on brown linen of boulder-like shapes on a black background. The left of the painting has an oval shape in yellow-orange and pink-orange with a white edge and horizontal line across the middle. Underneath this shape is a white filled shape while above it is a translucent shape in yellow-pink with a white edge. At the centre top is a rounded triangle shape of yellow-white with an orange edge. On the right of the painting is a stack of three orange-pink shapes with burgundy outlines, with a yellow-white shape above and a translucent orange shape in the bottom right corner. On the back of the painting are the texts '# 25205 / Jan Billycan / 107 x 77 cm / Acrylic on Linen / 2008' and 'Short St Gallery / Broome W.A.'

Statement of significance

The Canning Stock Route collection is comprised of 125 works and includes paintings, drawings, baskets, boomerangs, coolamons, headdresses, carved figures and shields.

The Canning Stock Route is a no-longer-used cattle droving route that traverses the Great Sandy and Gibson Deserts of central Western Australia. Comprised of 48 wells along an 1800 kilometres stretch of track, the route links Wiluna in the south with Sturt Creek in the north and traverses the traditional lands of nine Aboriginal language groups. The route was founded in 1905 when Alfred Canning was commissioned to investigate a route suitable for the droving of 500 head of cattle, with water sources spaced at intervals of no more than one day's walk apart. Although Canning's map records observations of the land and water resources, it makes no mention of Indigenous places and their associated meanings which the route traversed. This collection, composed of 'painting stories', sculptural works and oral histories, re-dresses Canning's omission and records the impact of the stock route on Indigenous lives and country. A six week journey with traditional owners held in July and August of 2007 inspired the artworks, many of which were produced during the journey, and provided an opportunity for more than 70 senior and emerging artists to reconnect with traditional lands..

Object information

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