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National Museum of Australia

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'Kurrkumalu' by Mayapu Elsie Thomas, 2007

2008.0041.0008

'Kurrkumalu' by Mayapu Elsie Thomas, 2007

Object information

Description

Beyond the great Dreaming narratives so commonly associated with desert art, simple childhood memories of home are embedded in contemporary paintings of Country. For the artist here, Kurrkumalu is forever associated with the memory of Mayapu being bitten by Larntiny, a family dingo who wanted the meat she was eating. "Kurrkumalu, that's where a dog bit me. He bit me when I was eating meat. Dog name Larntiny, bushman dog. From there we used to walk until we came to the Canning Stock Road. " [Mayapu Elsie Thomas] Mayapu's family used to move from this Country, Kurrkumalu, towards the Canning Stock Route in search of the bullock meat that was conveyed annually alongs its path. In this way, for some families, the stock route became a part of the seasonal ecology of the desert. Sometimes drovers left meat for families, and sometimes the meat was taken. "That was where [the bullocks] travelled ... along the wells ... That's where they used to spear bullocks, my father and Kuji's [Rosie Goodjie's] father." [Mayapu Elsie Thomas].

Physical description

A rectangular painting on brown linen with a painted black background. The top left of the picture has two U shapes and a blue line, while the top right has a purple oval and a smaller yellow oval with outlines in several colours. A green oval with a yellow-brown outline is in the centre of the picture, and a yellow wavy line edged with white dots runs across the painting underneath the oval. Beneath the line there are tree motifs on a predominently yellow dotted background. Other motifs are edged with red, yellow, white and green dots. Text at the bottom left reads 'MET/20/NG' and top right reads '76 x 61 cm'. The back has a stamp with text which reads 'Cat# 20 / form. / 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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