WARNING: THIS WEBSITE CONTAINS IMAGES, NAMES AND STORIES OF ABORIGINAL PEOPLE WHO HAVE PASSED AWAY.
Mira (Martu Wangka):
to bring something hidden into the light
Mira represents the culmination of FORM’s award-winning Canning Stock Route Project, which was initiated in 2006 and has involved over 250 Aboriginal participants, over 100 Aboriginal artists and elders, approximately 100 non-Indigenous contributors, and a cross-cultural project team of curators, filmmakers, photographers and cultural advisors. Their collective contributions have resulted in a vast archive of intangible cultural heritage, which the Project has been committed to returning to participating communities since its early days. With the astronomical growth of Project content between 2006 and 2013 amounting to over 40,000 unique cultural heritage items, the Project team has been focused on the development of innovative and sustainable digital solutions for the repatriation of this content to the 17 remote Aboriginal communities involved.
Mira is the result. It has grown out of an historical context in which Aboriginal knowledge has long been appropriated and/or removed from communities by researchers, anthropologists, government agencies, land councils and others. Though Aboriginal people are amongst the most researched peoples in the world, their recorded cultural knowledge has long been deposited in far away institutions where it is safe but usually extremely difficult for Aboriginal communities to locate and access, and the displacement of this knowledge continues to impact the transmission of cultural knowledge in many communities.
The Canning Stock Route Digital Futures Project enables intangible cultural heritage materials to be used, shared, viewed and enjoyed in communities via an online portal. Mira is the heart of Digital Futures and has been developed by FORM in partnership with the Center for Digital Archaeology (CoDA) at University of California Berkeley. Mira, which means ‘to bring something hidden into the light’ in Martu Wangka will not only provide remote community access but also offer extensive public access to a vast amount of the Project’s content in accordance with cultural protocols established by Aboriginal contributors and communities. This archive ensures that this trove content is preserved and future-proofed allowing communities to access and share these materials for generations to come.
The other aspect of Digital Futures is One Road: Canning Stock Route Project app, which repurposes the content and interactivity of the internationally award-winning One Road exhibition multimedia display for iOS devices and web.
ABOUT THE CANNING STOCK ROUTE PROJECT
Ngurra Kuju Walyja — One Country One People — The Canning Stock Route Project tells an intercultural and intergenerational story of community, collaboration and reconciliation. Initiated by FORM in 2006, the Project always aimed to be more than the production and presentation of art: asking audiences to get to know the artists, and learn from their stories and aspirations, to explore the cultural diversity of Aboriginal communities and their interconnections with each other and their Country and their part in a greater Australian story.
The Canning Stock Route cuts a single line across three deserts in Western Australia — the Great Sandy, the Little Sandy and the Gibson — along nearly 2000 kilometres of unforgiving dirt track and hundreds of sandhills. Although the non-Indigenous history of the stock route is fairly well-known, the Aboriginal story has, until now, only been glimpsed in paintings of celebrated Aboriginal artists such as Rover Thomas and Eubena Nampitjin. The Canning Stock Route Project set out to tell this story through Aboriginal art and in Aboriginal voices.
Collaborative networks between families, communities, creative industries, corporate and government agencies, not-for-profit enterprises and institutions have enabled the telling of these stories, adding texture and depth to Australian narratives of history, identity, belonging, reciprocity and change. As a consequence, a light has been shone on an untold history, through return to country trips and community workshops, creative professional development programs, a national touring exhibition, a multimedia suite, publications, the One Road app and Mira, this cultural archive.
One Road can be viewed online here. Or downloaded from the App Store here.
PARTNERS & TEAM
Mira is only one aspect of Ngurra Kuju Walyja – the Canning Stock Route Project. To see a full list of the Project’s supporters and contributors since 2006 visit: http://www.canningstockrouteproject.com/collaborations/.
Center for Digital Archaeology
Principal & Founding Partner: BHP Billiton
Department of Culture and the Arts
Indigenous Culture Support
Arts Law Centre of Australia
Herbert Smith Freehills
Project lead & manager: Monique La Fontaine
Project manager & coordinator: Mollie Hewitt
Cultural advisor: Curtis Taylor
Project team: Travis Kelleher, Ruth Leigh, Rhianna Pezzaniti
Project support: Stefania Bonatti, Callum Forsey, Agnieszka Waligóra
Project Management & Software Engineering: Elena Toffalori
Image & Metadata Management Lead: Kelley Shanahan
Video Lead & Metadata Management: Terra Thomas
Props Master & Project Support: Tyler Wilson
MIRA Archive Architecture: Michael Ashley
Licensing & Mukurtu Project Director: Kim Christen, Jane Anderson
Graphic Design: Humaan
ABOUT THE ART CENTRES
Birriliburu Artists, Tjukurba Gallery
Birriliburu Artists and Tjukurba Gallery are managed by the Shire of Wiluna. Wiluna marks the beginning of the Canning Stock Route, and Well 1 is situated only minutes from the gallery. Previously used as a hospital, horse shelter and a store, the refurbishment of the space in 2005 created an exhibition area, artists’ studio and library. An integral part of the Wiluna commmunity, Tjukurba Gallery enables artists to access professional support, celebrate their culture and benefit from the ethical sale of their work. Birriliburu Artists shares strong ties with the Martu and Ngaanyatjarra artists at Martumili and Kayili.
Kayili Artists is the arts enterprise for the tiny community of Patjarr on the Ngaanyatjarra lands of Western Australia. Patjarr is located on the edge of the Gibson Desert Nature Reserve, 240 kilometres north of Warburton. In September 2004 Kayili began operations as an art centre owned and governed by Aboriginal people. The paintings of its artists are known for their vibrant colours, raw painterly quality and vitality. Kayili regularly supports artists and their families on ‘return to Country’ trips, enabling them to maintain the ancestral connections that infuse their work.
Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre (KALACC)
KALACC was established in 1984 “to assist and promote the ceremonies of Kimberley Aboriginal people, to encourage and strengthen their social, cultural and legal values and ensure their traditions a place in Australian society”. KALACC provides vital services for cultural groups across the Kimberley, runs the Yiriman Project and regularly stages much-loved regional cultural festivals that help to keep law and culture strong. KALACC has provided the CSR Project with ongoing support since 2007, assisting in the delivery of various cultural activities and providing invaluable cultural advice.
Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency
Mangkaja Arts began in Fitzroy Crossing in the mid-1980s, in a tin-and-cement shed, from which the artists took their name (mangkaja is the term for a traditional wet weather shelter). Mangkaja’s early training and exhibitions program created wide interest, and in 1991 a landmark show, Karrayili: Ten Years On, was held at the Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute in Adelaide. Mangkaja is an Aboriginal-owned and -governed art centre, run by a board of directors, with representatives from each of four language groups. Fitzroy Crossing is the traditional Country of Bunuba people; the Country of their Gooniyandi neighbours lies to the east, and Walmajarri and Wangkajunga people come from the Great Sandy Desert in the south. Mangkaja’s vivid style, born of this rich intersection of cultures, has attracted global attention.
Martumili represents artists from six Martu communities in the Pilbara: Kunawarritji, Punmu, Nullagine, Parnpajinya/Newman, Jigalong and Parnngurr. Since starting up in late 2006, it has grown rapidly, establishing a national reputation for innovative and dynamic art practice. Martumili has staged exhibitions throughout Australia and is attracting a growing international audience. Martumili focuses on collective arts projects that have strong links to Country and culture, often resulting in the production of large collaborative paintings. Martu lands cover a large stretch of Country, from south of Well 5 to Well 39 on the Canning Stock Route.
Ngurra Artists is based in the Ngumpan and Wangkatjungka communities, east of Fitzroy Crossing. In the early 1990s a group of 15 artists began painting, carving and weaving at the Wangkatjungka annexe of the Karrayili Adult Education Centre. Most of these artists were born in the desert to the east of the Canning Stock Route, and in their paintings they record stories of sites in their Great Sandy Desert homeland. Ngurra and Mangkaja artists are closely connected through family and community networks. They also share with Martu people ties to the Country at the northern end of the stock route.
Papunya Tula Artists
Established at Papunya in the early 1970s, Papunya Tula Artists is often credited with initiating the contemporary Aboriginal art movement. Owned by Aboriginal stakeholders, the company now extends its operations far to the west of Alice Springs, into the communities of Kintore and Kiwirrkurra. The Papunya Tula painting style derives directly from the artists’ knowledge of the traditional body and sand paintings associated with ceremonies. This unmistakable style has led to Papunya Tula artists being represented in leading public galleries, institutions and private collections, both nationally and internationally. The aim of the company is to promote individual artists, provide economic development for their communities and assist in the maintenance of their rich cultural heritage.
Paruku Indigenous Protected Area (IPA)
Paruku is the Walmajarri name for Lake Gregory, an area of great spiritual significance to traditional owners. Paruku IPA is not a conventional art centre; the recognition of Tjurabalan people’s native title rights led to the establishment of the IPA in 2001. Many of the Paruku IPA artists lived and worked on Billiluna station and have strong connections to the region’s droving history. Art work produced by the Paruku IPA is used to map the cultural and ecological values of Tjurabalan Country. The traditional owners of Paruku include the Walmajarri, Jaru and Kukatja peoples.
Located in Balgo, at the Canning Stock Route’s northern end, Warlayirti Artists is one of Australia’s leading Aboriginal-owned and -governed art centres. The first exhibition of Balgo art, Art from the Great Sandy Desert, was mounted at the Art Gallery of Western Australia in 1986. The exhibition’s success created the impetus to establish Warlayirti Artists in the following year. The organisation has since grown significantly, and the artists represented by Warlayirti are internationally renowned for their luminous canvases. Through its work, Warlayirti contributes significantly to the social, cultural and economic wellbeing of the residents of Balgo, Billiluna and Mulan.
Yulparija Artists is based in Bidyadanga, 180 kilometres south of Broome, on the traditional land of the Karajarri people. The 1966 equal pay decision resulted in many stations evicting their Aboriginal workers. This is when many Yulparija people came to Bidyadanga, leaving their traditional Countries west of the stock route far behind. Motivated by a desire to pass on to their grandchildren their knowledge of their ancestral Country, the artists combine in their paintings an intimate knowledge of the desert with the rich colours of the salt-water Country. Yulparija Artists is represented by Short Street Gallery.
FORM established the Canning Stock Route Project in mid 2006 in order to share an intercultural and intergenerational story of community, collaboration and reconciliation. In 2008 the project’s collection of artworks and documentary materials were acquired and deemed a ‘national treasure’ by the National Museum of Australia. FORM and the Museum jointly produced the blockbuster exhibition Yiwarra Kuju: the Canning Stock Route, which launched in Canberra in 2010 and has since acheter viagra toured throughout Australia. The project has been a vast collaboration between over 250 Aboriginal participants, over 100 Aboriginal artists and elders, approximately 100 non-Indigenous contributors, and a cross-cultural project team of curators, filmmakers, photographers and cultural advisors.