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National Museum of Australia

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'Sunday Well' by Dadda Samson, 2008


'Sunday Well' by Dadda Samson, 2008

Object information


This is a painting of Sunday Well, the original name of which was Pulypuly. It is on the road east towards the Calvert Ranges when you leave the Stock route after well 16.

"People used to stay here. When people see the whitefella they used to run away, up to the hills and rocks. They were afraid of the whitefellas. My mother and my brothers ran away, right up to Puntawarri because the whitefellas were shooting at the Martu people. They were sneaking in and the gun went off, and they all ran and just kept running and running until they got to Puntawarri." [Dadda Samson]

While Sunday Well was surveyed by Canning's crew, and then subsequently not used as part of the stock route, the events described here by the artist are unlikely to have been related to that time. They seem to have happened before the artist was born (1939), so the white men involved could have been doggers or prospectors who were known operating in the region in the decades prior.

Physical description

A dark pink toned painting on canvas with a face like motif in green, yellow, orange, purple, pink and blue to the right side. Above this there is a circle with two concentric circles within it side by side, in pink, red, and yellow. The left side and lower section of the painting is filled with pink, red, purple and blue concentric shapes with an orange squarish shape in the bottom left corner. The text at the left side reads 'Sunday Well DS/196/MM 08-253 121 x 76 cm Dada Samson'. On the back of the canvas is a stamp with the text 'Cat # DS/196/MM / 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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