Yiwarra Kuju: the Canning Stock Route is a vision of the Country that was intersected by Canning’s stock route. It is a Country seen through the eyes of Aboriginal artists, and animated by ancestral energies and stories. The exhibition itself is laid out geographically with visitors entering the stock route Country in the south, travelling north and then returning again eventually to the south.
Film, multimedia and photography feature large in Yiwarra Kuju, which embraces a rich cultural fund of historical, social and cultural research, and focusses on artists’ stories in their own voices.
More than an exhibition of Aboriginal art, Yiwarra Kuju is defined by a remarkable collection of oral histories, which vividly bring the culture and history of the region to life. More than 200 oral histories were recorded by the Canning Stock Route Project, mostly in traditional languages, and more than 80 of these were translated by a team of skilled Aboriginal translators led by Ngalangka Nola Taylor and Putuparri Tom Lawford. This rich fund of cultural knowledge, conveyed in the artists’ own words, shaped the broader story of Yiwarra Kuju and brought the extraordinary history of this region into national focus for the first time.
The rich content that has been collected as part of the Project was developed into the award-winning One Road interactive, multitouch installation. In keeping with the project’s multidisciplinary approach, this interactive display merges artistic, cultural, historical, ecological and scientific data within the interface of Alfred Canning’s iconic hand-drawn map.
A joint initiative between FORM and the National Museum of Australia Yiwarra Kuju features works from the Canning Stock Route Collection, which was acquired by the Museum in 2008.
During its showing at the National Museum Yiwarra Kuju achieved a record attendance of over 122,000 people. The overwhelming response of visitors is summarised in the following feedback:
“Hi, I’m 56 years of ‘museuming’ on 3 Continents. Your Canning Stock Route exhibition is hands down the most beautiful, educational, and exquisitely lit and laid out of any exhibit I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing! Thank you.” (from a USA visitor)
“The Canning Stock Route is the best curated exhibition I have ever seen.”
“The Canning Stock Route is a wonderful exhibition – the second of its kind at this Museum. Beautifully displayed and presented – informative and educational – AND, ENTERTAINING. Well done.”
“Today I visited your Canning Stock route display and found it amazing. I not only found it upsetting (for the treatment that the Aborigines received) but all SO interesting and educational. You had a great mix of film, art and interactive displays that appeal to all ages. Keep up the great work and give us more of these displays and exhibitions.”