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National Museum of Australia

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'Punmu' by Mary Meribida, 2008


'Punmu' by Mary Meribida, 2008

Object information


"This is Punmu Country near well 33, [west] of the Canning Stock Route. He got a well, this Country, for cattle. This is my Country. We been walk 'em, no clothes, nothing. We proper bush people, no English." [Mary Meribida 2008]

In this painting two waterholes are depicted: Punmu, to the left, and Nyirla, an important ceremonial site, east of the stock route. Between these two waters lies the invisible thread of the Canning Stock Route. Mary Meribida is the daughter of Rover Thomas's sister Kupi, who left the desert with Mary and travelled north-west. They eventually settled at Bidyadanga on the Kimberley coast.

Physical description

An orange toned textured painting on canvas with two white edged ovals in a horizontal line. The background is dark orange dotted in the upper right corner and lighter in lower left. The two ovals have a blue green background edged with white dots, with a central dotted white section leaving a very thin section of the blue showing. The edge has the text 'MM/204/SS'. On the back of the canvas is a stamp with the text 'Cat # MM/204/SS / form. / The / Canning / Stock / Route / Project' and two texts in black marker that read '#25135 / Mary Meribida / Acrylic on Canvas / 137 x 137cm / 2008' and 'Short St. Gallery / Broom 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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