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'Martilirri, Kalpaa and Kartaru' by Ngamaru Bidu, 2008


'Martilirri, Kalpaa and Kartaru' by Ngamaru Bidu, 2008

Object information


The artist has outlined the content of this painting in some detail: "This is a well called Martalirri (well 22). And around there is also Kalpaa (well 23) and Kartaru (well 24), in the middle. And in summertime we could stop in those places because they have permanent water. After the rain we could move back to our homeland because the rockholes and soaks would all be filled again. And we walked around there, and we got the third sister, Ivy. Ivy (Karlkapa) was born in Martalirri. They used to walk around that area, going northwest side of CSR and back out to the east, up and down, back to our homeland, back to our own yinta. And the other two got big enough to hunt small animals (lizards). This is Jarturti, country for the Williams family. My uncle's country is around Markurti. Kurlku, Marlukujarra rockhole. And the footprints are a Dreamtime of a man looking for a water. Wanti (woman) and a man travelling together and flying. When they checked it there was no water around that rockhole, and when there was no water they flew.

This man here he came through here in the Dreamtime walking right up through here and then he flew. Other one, a man and a woman, coming behind him, following him right up through here and then finish, I don't know where they've gone. There is one more woman, going across here. This one here is a little waterhole, there is a little creek here and these are all the rockholes, another rockhole here and another rockhole here. This is my home here, and another one coming across here again. Those three people walked through this country and disappeared when they flew somewhere. They went forever. That was in the Dreamtime when they were walking around." [Ngamaru Bidu 2008]

Physical description

A yellow toned dot painting on canvas including a black coloured block with five black lines radiating from it in the top half of the painting. Surrounding this motif are U shapes in brown with borders in dotted lines of white apricot, yellow and cream which then merge to fill the background area. Below this is a line of yellow coloured foot shapes follow the contour of a black line in the shape of an inverted V with a circle at the point in the centre. The black line has a wide border of multiple dotted lines in brown, yellow, white and orange. In the lower left corner are more foot motifs in yellow next to three white dotted oval outlines surrounded and filled with dots in brown, yellow, white and orange. The lower section of the painting has U shaped motifs as well as stick-like lines in dark brown with borders in green, brown, white, orange, and yellow which merge into each other to fill the background. The text at the bottom of the painting reads 'MARDILITY 08-118 NGAMARU BIDU 150 x 102cm' and at the left side reads 'NB/199/MM' while at the top edge is a stamp with the text 'Cat # 118 / 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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