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One Road — the destination

One Road — the destination

The story behind the Canning Stock Route project (part eight)

Our Country is beautiful, magnificent ... With me and my land, I know where to go. I know where the waters are. I can travel in night. Which way is the south, which way the kayili [north], which way the kakarra [east]. And in the middle: people's homelands ... We got a family any way we wanna go.

Jeffrey James, Kilykily (Well 36), 2007
Canning Stock Route, north of Well 51.
Canning Stock Route, north of Well 51. Photo: Tim Acker, 2007.

The indivisibility of Country and family is the foundation of the Canning Stock Route Project. Country is what binds the Western Desert family networks together, enhancing and reinforcing people's spiritual ties to their land, their ancestors and the Jukurrpa. The multitude of stories and works of art in this exhibition reveals the legacy of its artists, who have sung their paintings into being and shared their oral histories with all who are willing to listen. And yet the complete Canning Stock Route collection contains enough material for a great many more, as yet untold, stories.

The Canning Stock Route Project grew from modest, even naive, origins to become a dynamic, five-year, multidisciplinary program. It unfolded organically as it adapted to the enormous, intricate web of family, Country and cultural connections across three deserts and multiple communities, towns, and cities across Australia. As the project's design and its defining features were reworked, desert and Western concepts of people, place, history and contemporary art began to coalesce.

The history of the project shows that by listening to people's stories it is possible for us to change our own lives. Collaboration is a powerful elixir; its fusion of diverse energies opens up new roads, new approaches and new ways of seeing. The artists, contributors and project team trust that you enjoy and value the new road that has been created in Yiwarra Kuju — one road.