Name: Murungkurr Terry Murray
Murungkurr Terry Murray - Family connections and CSR Proejct [ORAL HISTORY]
Synopsis: Murungkurr Terry Murray tells some stories about the artists connected to the Canning Stock Route. He speaks of personal family connections to the Great Sandy Desert, and how art can express feeling and show the Aboriginal side of the story. He thinks the Canning Stock Route Project has a 'strong and friendly approach' with a balance of Aboriginal and European perspectives. Terry also speaks about learning from Wally Caruana and how is happy to be a part of the Canning Stck Route team.
Language spoken: English
Catalogue number: CSROH_194_Terry_Murray
Interviewed By: Nicole Ma
Location Recorded: Old Masonic Hall, Nedlands
Cultural Protocols: Public Access - Verbal Consent
Full transcript: Nicole Ma: What’s different between the first CSR project and this one?
Murungkurr Terry Murray: Well, um … the first time we had to work with the nine art centres to bring in painting about what happened in the Canning Stock Route. Like the history side and also, um, what artists and family members around the stock route.
NM: How did they do that?
MTM: Well um … we work closely with the nine different art centre. With Hayley Atkins that works in Newman, and me in Fitzroy Crossing with Mangkaja Arts and also with Carly and Mon visiting all these other Art Centre – like Warlayirti [?] Art and …
NM: So did you travel around?
MTM: Um … I didn’t travel on the Canning Stock Route but I helped in that, um, on the top end with Mangkaja artists and the Wangkajunga artists that relate back to the Canning Stock Route.
NM: Do you have a connection with the CSR?
MTM: Well, um, most of my family are more in really central, Great Sandy Desert. But my mum and family members are connected to different family groups that are in the Canning Stock Route. But, like, in those early days they used to hunt and gather and trade different objects and … also, um, yeah just visiting different waterhole and come to ceremony time, like different ceremony in different areas and …
NM: And did that happen around the stock route?
MTM: Yeah … in the Canning Stock Route. There’s a lot of history, good side and bad side. But most, I think the top part of the Canning Stock Route, to Well 33, is in the Great Sandy Desert area, that most of my family members are familiar people coming from different areas and meeting them at different waterhole – jilas, we call them.
NM: So the Canning Stock Route goes through more than one desert.
MTM: Yeah, bout four or five desert. And yeah um … Canning Stock Route is, yeah, made up of about four or five different desert and about six or seven language in the … in the five different, in the Western Australia, from Halls Creek down to Wiluna.
NM: So your family is part of one of the deserts?
MTM: My family is more right in the central Great Sandy Desert, but, I was involved in helping this project in other different ways of how we look at art work and dancing and ceremonies and other way of … how, um, yeah, Aboriginal people in Australia are expressing the feeling through art and different way of getting their … the wider of Australia and the public to know where they’re from and how they’re connected to land … themself.
NM: Do you think this project is important?
MTM: Yeah, um, this project is really important to the Aboriginal side of … way of looking at the history and the European side of looking at their history. How Canning and different tribes and family in the Canning Stock Route were involved in making all this well.
NM: Can you talk about what you’re learning?
MTM: Well I’m learning to um, how you’re looking at making it a strong … strong way of looking at … the both different history, like the European side and the Aboriginal way of telling that history in a more public and a friendly approach to how in the earlier days that Eurpoean meeting Aboriginal people and Aboriginal tribes seeing European people for the first time and how … you know, we, now we’re living in two different culture. The modern way of living and the traditional way, and now it’s … you know, the change in our lives, the younger generation, that we have to tell the story.
NM: What do the paintings have to do with the project?
MTM: Well, the painting tell the story about how different tribes lived in this big area, the Canning Stock Route, and also how they related to different language groups, different family grouping, and how in those days we didn’t have all this technology and all this … you know, how we come together in … you know, in all these different waterholes and jila [ancestral being-snake] and also how … the painting tell the story how we are really expressing our feeling and what is in our mind, and how to tell the story about what really happened in those days. And how, the Canning Stock Route came to all these different wells and waterholes and how Aboriginal people reacted in different ways of telling the story through their art
NM: What reasons are you using to choose the paintings?
MTM: Well the reason is to get much … much work from different areas to get that history, in the good way and the bad way and the sad way and the good stories and how … tribes and Aboriginal people were affected in those area of the Canning Stock Route.
NM: Difference between last time and this time? What have you learnt?
MTM: Well, um, last year we started to um … yeah come to Perth to meet the team. And started to talk to all these art centre about how this Canning Stock Route’s gonna be, um, showing them the history of how all this nine art centre … of how these Aboriginal people are … like, associated with the Canning Stock Route and which family members and tribal members and the language groups of how we … yeah, putting a possible together, like each piece. It’s still early stages of how we are looking at this whole show.
NM: So what’s the difference between last time and what’s happening this time?
MTM: Well, the last time it was like the starting point but now we are getting into how the setup’s going to be, of the exhibition. And how we got, like from Well 1 to 51, how we’ve got really strong works and oral history and 3D stuff that surrounds the Canning Stock Route. And it’s, yeah, it’s been a while from last year, that it was the starting point to go out and talk to all these art centres and all these language groups and … you know, it’s still early days that we are getting more information, and the team is getting stronger as we progress throughout this year. So it’s coming along slowly but we just taking as much we can get and how the team’s gonna set it out and how we still moving round the works … like, the painting itself, how we … you know there’s more stronger works come in, or are we going to bring work back in, or if maybe family members been missing out. So we have to still, um, we’re still in the starting of the stage, like how to get more into the stories and the artwork.
NM: What was the process? Was there a structure?
MTM: Oh well we just … well we’ve got 170 works in total, we just trying to bring out the best work and stories and oral history and we started to get a clear picture of where we are heading.
NM: What’s the method you use to look at a painting?
MTM: Well, um, I’ve got two of the young curators working beside me, like I’m a young curator as well, and the help of one of our main man Wally Caruana. So he’s, yeah, the team is really strong and looking at all these works. So it’s … yeah, it’s been fun and sometimes it’s a bit hard but we have to go through all this work and bring out the best and looking at both sides, the Aboriginal side and the European side of things, how do we bring out the message, of you know, the history of the Canning Stock Route.
NM: What has Wally taught you?
MTM: Well, Wally he’s, yeah, um, really important to this exhibition and he’s been working in the art world for many years and he’s … yeah, I’ve learnt a lot by … yeah, he’s giving us information, how you go about setting things up the right way and how, you know, we’re just learning as it goes along to the lead up to the, in another two years, we’re getting all this information and training and how we’re gonna show this, all this history of the Canning Stock Route and … you get that feeling working how with somebody that’s been working strongly with artwork and Aboriginal history … that the team is, you know … I’m really happy that I’m part of this team and yeah, it’s been a stepping stone and a learning point for me.
Video recording: Tape 10, Tape 11
Rights: Cultural Owner & Storyteller: Murungkurr Terry Murray; © FORM, transcript only
Provenance: This material is sourced from Ngurra Kuju Walyja — the Canning Stock Route Project, which was initiated in 2006 by FORM and developed in partnership with Birriliburu, Kayili, KALACC, Mangkaja, Martumili, Ngurra, Papunya Tula, Paruku IPA, Warlayirti and Yulparija artists and art centres.