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National Museum rolls out huge paintings with a big story

2 SEPTEMBER 2009

The National Museum of Australia has acquired two large paintings from the south Kimberley in Western Australia and will conduct a conservation inspection on the works in the Hall of the National Museum this evening.

Ngurrara, an 8x5 metre canvas was painted in 1996 by a team of 24 Aboriginal artists at Pirnini in the Great Sandy Desert, Western Australia. Martumili Ngurra was painted at Parrngurr in WA.

Both works document the Aboriginal experience of the Canning Stock Route, the longest historic stock route in the world first surveyed in 1906. It runs two thousand kilometres from Halls Creek to Wiluna, Western Australia.

The development of the ultimately unsuccessful cattle route dramatically affected the lives of Aboriginal people.

The paintings add to a collection of 116 paintings, contemporary cultural objects and documentary material made by 60 artists who travelled along the Canning Stock Route on a six week return to country trip in 2007. The collection was acquired by the National Museum of Australia earlier this year.

The National Museum of Australia believes these works are of truly national significance, providing a unique archive of Indigenous social and cultural histories.

Craddock Morton, Director of the National Museum of Australia said: "The Canning Stock Route is a place where Indigenous and non-Indigenous histories intersect. The National Museum has effectively recovered the Indigenous history of the country traversed by the Stock Route."

"For many years, the story of the Stock Route was represented as a white man's story – these works help us to recognise that its history goes back much further and is held in the minds and hearts of the Aboriginal people of the region. It is representative of similar stories from across Australia of first contact and engagement with the pastoral industry," said Mr Morton.

The National Museum of Australia in Canberra will present the Canning Stock Route collection in a world class exhibition in July 2010.

For interviews, images and more information please contact Dennis Grant on
02 6208 5351, 0409 916 481 or Caroline Vero on 02 6208 5338, 0438 620 710 or media@nma.gov.au