Darnku Country

Place Oceania: Australia, Western Australia
Accession Number ART95079
Collection type Art
Measurement Framed: 93 cm x 93 cm x 3.5 cm; unframed: 90.1 cm x 90.1 cm
Object type Painting
Physical description acrylic on canvas
Maker Forrest, Alec
Place made Australia: Western Australia
Date made 2006
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Item copyright: AWM Licensed copyright


Topographical landscape of Kaningarra country in Western Australia. The composition marks various geographical sites including waterholes and lakes. The red lines are symbolic of the sand hills, and the green background suggests it is the wet season. Trees and bushes are scattered throughout the painting.

This work reflects an Indigenous perspective on wartime experiences on the home front during the Second World War. On talking about the painting, the artist imbued it with the following history 'The kartiya mob [group of white people] picked my brother to lead them through the desert. It was a government job because of the Second World War. My brother knows this country, that's why they picked him. When the Germans were attacking England my brother helped the Kartiya drove a big mob of cattle through country, not long after that the war stopped and England won.'

The work depicts the area along the Canning Stock Route in Western Australia. During the Second World War, the Canning Stock Route was particularly active as it was needed to not only transport cattle, but as an evacuation route in the event of Japanese invasion. Although the Australian Defence Act actively excluded Indigenous people from service at this time, due to the shortage of labour on the home front, policies were relaxed and Aboriginal people were brought in to assist activities along this route. They were engaged in both official and non-official capacities and their contribution ensured the industries, including the cattle industry, continued to operate. This work focuses on a droving mission along this route in which Alec's brother was employed as a stockman for both his skill and intimate knowledge of country.

Alec Forrest was a Walmajarri man.