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National Museum of Australia

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Carved female head by Pampirla Hansen Boxer, 2007


Carved female head by Pampirla Hansen Boxer, 2007

Object information


This kind of carving is extremely uncommon for men of the northern Canning Stock Route region. Such heads were, at one time, carved by coastal west Kimberley men. As Pampirla has lived for considerable periods in Broome, and been exposed to these traditions elsewhere, he has adapted them to the stories of desert Country for which he is custodian. The artist did not specify any particular 'story' associated with this woman.

Physical description

A carving of a nude female torso made from a solid piece of cylindrical wood and pigmented. Most of the carving is coloured black with the facial and chest features carved lightly in relief. The eyes have an outline of cream paint and the nose is flattened. The shoulder length hair is coloured orange brown, and is covered with short vertical grooves.

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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