Name: Kenneth KJ Martin
KJ Kenneth Martin - CSR Project and Halls Creek [ORAL HISTORY]
Synopsis: KJ Kenneth Martin, one of the first Aboriginal members of the Canning Stock Route trip, discusses his background and the challenges and highlights of becoming involved in the Canning Stock Route Project, especially the Beijing exhibition and learning from Wally Caruana. KJ also speaks about the impact of negative media about Halls Creek, making good friends in the team, and how his involvement in the Canning Stock Route Project makes him feel proud.
Language spoken: English
Catalogue number: CSROH_188_KJ_Kenneth_Martin
Interviewed By: Nicole Ma
Location Recorded: William Street, Perth
Cultural Protocols: Public Access - Verbal Consent
Full transcript: Nicole Ma: Can you introduce yourself?
KJ Kenneth Martin: My name is KJ Martin from Halls Creek, up in the Kimberly, and I’m from the Kija tribe, my skin is Jungkurra. And I’ve got two kids, I work at the radio station, Language Centre and sometimes a drive up to Argyle taking workers to and from Halls Creek.
NM: How did you get onto the CSR project?
KM: One of my bosses from the Language Centre said she knew someone in Fitzroy who was going on the Canning Stock Route and she thought it would be good for me to go out there and work with some of the film crew that was on the Canning Stock Route, to get some more training – and a little bit in Final Cut Pro and how to … on the job training for camera and all that sort of stuff.
NM: What's been good about it? Bad about it? [Being in Perth]
KM: Well, it’s really cold, that might be one bad thing about it, but other than that everything’s been alright, you know. Watching the curator team select their paintings and sort of from the outside, behind the scenes, us mob watching and recording what they’re doing and what makes them select certain paintings is sort of a good thing about being here. Like, when I first started off a lot of people heard my opinion on what I thought about paintings and it’s changed a little bit then and it’s changed a whole heap now, just looking at … especially that gallery last night.
NM: What was special about the gallery last night?
KM: Oh just how they, the curators, put all the paintings together and moved them around so they make each other stand out, the paintings.
NM: What's the best thing you've learnt from being on the trip?
KM: I suppose having a talk to Wally, I spoke to him when we had dinner down at that Italian restaurant down the road somewhere. We were talking about how to look at paintings or what too see, I suppose, what to look for in a painting. I haven’t learnt that but I’ve been looking at paintings a little bit harder this week rather than I used to, I just had a quiet look and just head off, but now I’m really having a look at the painting in detail.
NM: What are you learning within this project?
KM: I don’t know what I’d like to do in this project, really. It’s good training. This week I learnt how to use a boom mic, we don’t usually do that at home, we just get a microphone and a stand and put it in front of them old people to have a yarn, and then we just put the camera on a tripod to record them.
NM: What do you want to do in the future?
KM: Well, make documentaries on where I live and stuff like that. For myself, about myself and maybe about where I’m from. Them sort of stuff. I’m interested in trying to make a documentary on Halls Creek itself about my point of view of Halls Creek, you know, being a person from there and growing up there, so I know all the people there. And I just want to let the people know that it’s not as bad as it sounds in papers and on television when something bad happens up north.
NM: So you want to tell stories from your point of view?
KM: Yeah. I’d like to. I think, maybe I’ve got good friends and a good family and a good sort of life. For this story I’m talking about in Halls Creek, the documentary I want to make is based around me and what I see, so I want to sort of get other people to see what I see and all the friends that I hang around … there are pretty good people, they’re funny people, and my family, they are a really happy family and we’re really tight, close together. It’s totally opposite to what people hear in the news, ‘cause there’s people who just come in and they think that’s all Halls Creek is. Yeah.
NM: How did being involved in the launch make you feel?
KM: Yeah, I felt good. I felt good when it all come together at the end. Wally had a speech there and sort of thanked all the people who were involved, which was good, made me feel good. You know, somebody coming from a place where there’s a lot of negatives in the news, and not many people who see this side of Halls Creek, me leaving Halls Creek to go for three weeks on the Canning Stock Route, working with you and Cam and everybody else, and Carly with FORM and Tim, so that may be one story in itself … but yeah, a little bit of recognition from Wally and I think it was BHP spokesperson there who said something last night about all the workers, with inputs into this Indigenous arts or the Canning Stock Route arts. So I felt really good about that, but, you know, it’s only for the people who were there I suppose. They’re not going to say that somebody from Halls Creek came down and had a really good part in what’s going on here. It’ll still be negative up there, but the positive that I’m down here, sort of thing. Yeah, well it’s been going on for two years now, ay. And this is my first time down here with this group of FORM.
[Helicopter flies over]
This project has been going for about two years, and I was on the last part of the Canning Stock Route, with all the painters, and some people come at lake Stretch, big corroboree and everything there, but this is my first time down in Perth with all the curators, and I’m working alongside Dixon there with operating the boom mic and maybe on the camera now and then, and it’s good on the job training sort of thing.
NM: What was the most fun thing that happened on the trip?
KM: What night was it? Wednesday night? Wednesday night we went down and had a few beers at down Rubix bar next to Ibis and we headed off to the club Carnigans, I think it is, and we were dancing there the whole night, ay. But I can’t say too much about that, people will be getting divorces. One bloke there he chatting up some girl there, we can’t mention no names, you guys have to figure out all that stuff yourself.
NM: So it's not all work? You're making friends?
KM: Oh yeah, I think this whole week’s been fun, you know. Even while you work, at least we can sort of socialise while we work. It’s been really easy. You know, have a break when you want to have a break and get back to work when you finished your little break. Yeah, heaps of friends. They’re all there in the back, do you see them behind me. Yeah, making some new mates and old mates and mate’s mates, mate’s rates. That’s it? Good.
Video recording: Tape 35
Rights: Cultural Owner & Storyteller: KJ Kenneth Martin; © 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.