Menu toggle

National Museum of Australia

Where our stories come alive

Collection Explorer

4

'Tiwa' by Lily Long, 2008

2008.0041.0027

'Tiwa' by Lily Long, 2008

Object information

Description

"This is the Canning Stock Route. The country on the western side of the Canning Stock Route is divided between Manyjilyjara and Warnman. The boundary runs along the edge of Yartutuma [a lake on the Punmu-Kunawarritji road]. I began this painting with Tiwa (well 26) on the CSR and then worked on the country around that area. When we were kids, we used to have a feed at Tiwa. I was with my sister and our parents. They put the government well next to Tiwa jurnu [soak] when they were building the stock route. Many other wells along the stock route have since collapsed, but Tiwa in Warnman country is still standing. It is the last water for the tourists. Tourists camp there sometimes, have a feed there too. This is the big hill where, a long time ago, when my mother, father, my sister Amy and my brother used to live. We would sometimes climb up on that hill and see drovers on the Canning Stock Route, we used to see them coming. The old people were up on that hill and they saw a truck and all the cattle. The first time we saw drovers, all the Warnman people fled from them, even my father and D.O.'s [Dawn Oates'] mother. My sister and brother, DO's brother and I all ran up on that hill to hide from the drovers. We hid up there until nightfall, stayed through one night and came down in the dark. When we got back to the well, we didn't drink that water. Instead, we travelled through the night on the way to Karlamilyi. There are two soaks (jurnu) at the bottom edge of the painting. Those soaks were a main water for the old people. In the bottom left hand corner is Murrlpu [lit. backbone], which is my brother's country. It has a Wilarra Jukurrpa (Moon Dreaming). The moon was travelling past, in the Dreamtime, and he killed the dog. The dog turned into a rock, which is the hill Murrlpu, my brother's country. Jural is in the bottom right hand corner and the hills along the top edge are called Partujarapili." [Lily Long]

The hills (background) in this painting, Partujarapili, relate to the Jukurrpa story of an old woman who tried to poison the ancestral heroes, the Wati Kutjarra. These ancestral narratives found sad echoes in stock route history as well. As the artist notes of her own family:

"This used to happen to Aboriginal people on the Canning Stock Route too. My auntie's husband was poisoned by white people. They used to leave bullock leg with poison for people to eat." [Lily Long]

Physical description

A square multicoloured painting on canvas with a blue rectangle outlined in beige towards the centre. Behind it are pink toned mountain-like shapes with a blue sky and white clouds. The painting has tree motifs in white and green, and bush like shapes in green with three large and a few small orange, grey and cream rock-like motifs around and below the blue square. The painting has an orange-brown line across the painting with other diagonal lines extending from or below it. There are two blue circles surrounded by brown and orange borders in the lower part of the painting. The text at the bottom of the painting reads 'LL/190/MM / catalogue / MARTUMILI 91 x 91cm 08-111 LILY LONG WANMAN COUNTRY'. On the back of the canvas is a stamp with text which reads 'Cat # 190 / 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

Back to top