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National Museum provides cultural introduction to Australia for Commonwealth heads

24 OCTOBER 2011

A remarkable collection of paintings and stories from the deserts of Western Australia, gathered and presented in a record-breaking exhibition, will form the cultural centrepiece for visitors to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth.

Yiwarra Kuju: The Canning Stock Route, an exhibition developed and presented by the National Museum of Australia in Canberra, reclaims the Aboriginal history of the world's longest stock route through the deserts of Western Australia.

Arts Minister Simon Crean today welcomed CHOGM visitors to the exhibition.

"Yiwarra Kuju is a collection of national significance to all Australians, because it is a place where Indigenous and non-Indigenous histories intersect," Mr Crean said. "What makes this exhibition unique is that for the first time the story of the Canning Stock Route is being told by Indigenous Australians."

The exhibition set a record for visitors and was critically acclaimed when it went on display at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra in July 2010.

"There couldn't be a better cultural introduction to Australia than the Yiwarra Kuju: The Canning Stock Route exhibition," said Andrew Sayers, Director of the National Museum of Australia.

"Visitors to the exhibition in Canberra responded very positively to the way Yiwarra Kuju tells Indigenous stories with vibrant art, authentic voices and multi-media engagements. CHOGM visitors will come away from the exhibition with a deeper appreciation of contemporary Indigenous art and culture."

The century-old Canning Stock Route, an ultimately unsuccessful cattle track stretching from Halls Creek to Wiluna, is usually presented as a white man's story. The exhibition Yiwarra Kuju restates the Aboriginal history of the stock route by telling the story through Aboriginal eyes and voices.

The art and objects were produced by the Canning Stock Route Project, a four year program devised by FORM, an independent arts organisation in Perth, which involved artists, traditional custodians and emerging Aboriginal curators and filmmakers.

The exhibition was made possible by funding from the Federal Government's National Collecting Institutions Touring and Outreach Program (NCITO) and BHP Billiton.

Yiwarra Kuju: The Canning Stock Route for international visitors to CHOGM, Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre October 24 – 30; opening free to the public November 2 – 27.

More information is available on the Yiwarra Kuju web feature.

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