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'Tapu' by Wakartu Cory Surprise, 2007


'Tapu' by Wakartu Cory Surprise, 2007

Object information


To the west of the Canning Stock Route lies Tapu, the Country of Wakartu's father and the subject of this painting. Wakartu was born there, and it is also where her parents and grandparents were killed by fire. "From there they all fell down everywhere. They got burned by fire. My brother washed me down then they took us away. We cried all night." [Wakartu Cory Surprise] After these events Wakartu left Tapu with her brothers and travelled first to Kaningarra (well 48) on the Canning Stock Route, then back west to Wayampajarti.

Physical description

A square painting on canvas in mainly primary colours showing an uneven concentric circle which becomes a round edged square in the outer rings. There are thin white lines between each ring, and colours start with black in the centre then, red, dark green, yellow orange and blue at the edge. The top edge has 'CS/142/MJ', left edge has '120 x 120' and the bottom edge has '120 x 120'. On the back of the canvas is the text 'WAKARTU / CORY SURPRISE / 105/08' in black marker and 'TARPU' and '120 x 120' in pen. There is also a stamp with text which reads 'Cat # 142 / The / Canning / Stock / Route / Project'.

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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