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National Museum of Australia

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Collection Explorer


'Lake Disappointment' by Clifford Brooks, 2007


'Lake Disappointment' by Clifford Brooks, 2007

Object information


In 2007 Clifford Brooks travelled the entire Canning Stock Route as a member of the FORM project, retracing the journey of his father's brother, Rover Thomas. Clifford paints his parents' Country along the middle stretches of the stock route, including the story of his father's search for Rover. Clifford's father set off in search of his brother Rover Thomas from Martilirri (well 22), just north of Lake Disappointment (the white shape to the right of the line of concentric circles). Clifford painted this canvas after the 'return to Country' trip, having been given permission to paint this area by Jeffrey James (now deceased), who was a senior custodian for Kumpupirntily ( Lake Disappointment).

Physical description

A rectangular painting on canvas with a wavy line of concentric brown, black and yellow circles running diagonally down the painting from top left to bottom right. There is a white shape with yellow edging near the bottom right of the painting. The background has three different coloured sections with maze like line patterns across all of them. The top is white and brown, the middle is orange and black and the lower section is yellow and brown. Text at the left and right edges both read '96 x 152' while at the bottom left is the text 'CB/121/TJ'.

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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