Artists from Aurukun, western Cape York Peninsula, have long been known for their timber sculptures which often represent totemic figures belonging to one of the five separate clans of Aurukun. Some of these sculptures are monumental ‘law poles’ used in important ceremonies, whilst others take an innovative look at the contemporary culture of their community. In almost all Aboriginal communities throughout Australia, dogs dominate the landscape: roaming the streets in packs and intimidating passers-by; lying in the shade, seeking respite from the midday heat; and, in the evening, seeking out an ‘owner’ to feed them leftovers from the day’s meal. Collectively, they are known as ‘camp dogs’ and, in the case of Aurukun, have the language name ‘ku’.
The group of ‘ku’ sculpture exhibited in ’21st century: Art in the First Decade’ were produced over an extended period during 2009–10 at the Wik and Kugu Art Centre in Aurukun by the artists Jack Bell, Craig Koomeeta, David Marpoondin, Garry Namponan, Leigh Namponan, Keith Wikmunea, Roderick Yunkaporta. As opposed to law poles, camp dogs generally belong to everyone, allowing the members of each clan to collaborate on this large-scale project.