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Since late 2006 FORM has had the privilege of working closely with some of Western Australia's finest Aboriginal artists and their Countrymen, to build the celebrated Canning Stock Route Project.
Set in the striking desert landscapes of the Kimberley, Pilbara, Western Desert regions and the goldfields, this project aimed to create economic and professional development opportunities for the remote communities situated near the stock route. But in the process the project also became part of the life of the communities that embraced it. For it is the voices of the artists and their families that emerge so clearly in both the Yiwarru Kuju exhibition and the catalogue; their knowledge and their culture highlight the importance of family connection and kinship and of their intimate relationship with the land.
Equally important for the successful delivery of a project of this scale have been the partnerships that embraced the original vision and made possible the essential funding, without which the project could not have been realised. The first and most enduring of our partners has been BHP Billiton Iron Ore. They were with us from the very beginning, and the spin-off benefits in terms of cultural awareness and community capacity-building have been far-reaching, extending well beyond their original commitment. The other major partners have been the Indigenous Land Corporation and the Government of Western Australia Department of Culture and the Arts. The relationship with the remote communities who collaborated with FORM on the Canning Stock Route Project has matured over the course of the past four years. It has been nurtured by the leadership of Carly Davenport, Monique La Fontaine, John Carty, Nicole Ma, Putuparri Tom Lawford, Ngalangka Nola Taylor and Tim Acker, and been informed by the highly skilled team of professionals who worked with them to realise the full potential of the project.
In particular, FORM would like to thank the National Museum of Australia for its leadership; the purchase of the collection by the Museum fulfilled one of the dreams of the Aboriginal contributors. The content developed in partnership with the remote communities, under the guidance of emerging Aboriginal curators and media specialists, now rests in safe hands for the benefit of future Australians.
The emerging curatorial and media team has been mentored throughout the project through a structured program of development. Co-curators Hayley Atkins, Doolmarria Louise Mengil and Murungkurr Terry Murray, and media practitioners Clint Dixon, Morika Biljabu, KJ Kenneth Martin and Curtis Taylor have been integral to the shaping of the exhibition and to our understanding of the people and their relationship to the land surrounding the Canning Stock Route. All seven members of this team are very familiar with the concept of mentoring, which has been a common thread in their upbringing through the efforts of their families.
We have been privileged to have worked on this project and to have known the many special people who have shared their collective knowledge with us and with the broader Australian community.
Executive Director, FORM