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National Museum of Australia

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Making the Cut Line with Len Beadell by Jean Burke


Making the Cut Line with Len Beadell by Jean Burke

Object information


This painting tells the story of the graded road made by Len Beadell and his crew to service the Giles Meteorological Station. Jean was a student at Warburton Mission School when the road building machinery first came to the community.

"That first road went to Giles. It was the old one, the Carnegie Road, it went up to the North going Patjarr way and back around to (Warburton) Ranges. Len Beadell-ku road. We were young children at Warburton School when the bulldozers first came. We didn't know what they were. Some tjitji (children) were really frightened, crying and running away. They thought it was mamu. Then the bulldozers made a road around to Mt Davies and Blackstone and went back to Giles on the Carnegie Road. It was only piranpa (whitefellas) making that road. Yarnangu made a cut line after." [Jean Burke]

Physical description

An acrylic painting on canvas in predominantly yellow tones, showing three tractors with people standing around them.

Statement of significance

This collection consists of thirty-three paintings produced by Warakurna Artists for a collaborative commercial exhibition with the Outstation Gallery in Darwin. The exhibition, 'History Paintings - All the Stories got into our minds and eyes', opened in May 2011.

The collection is significant as a broad and comprehensive body of work that presents a series of (related) Aboriginal perspectives on events in Australian history, some of which fundamentally challenge other accounts in the historical record. The collection documents the historical perspective of Ngaanyatjarra people who currently reside in the community of Warakurna. Contextualised by more customary mythic narratives, most of the works address historical events and provide an insight into the Aboriginal experience of contact on the colonial frontier. Taken together, from the Seven Sisters Dreaming to football carnivals in Warakurna today, the collection encompasses 100 years (and more) of history in the Ngaanyatjarra lands.

Object information

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