In 2014 Bush Babies played a vital role in Moora, where the sharing of stories has brought together families who were grieving after many deaths in the community. The Moora community was inspired by CAN’s previous project Yarns of the Heart: Noongar Dolls, and focused on creating textile ‘babies from the bush’ using a variety of natural materials and ancestral techniques, including eco-dyeing and weaving.
With local Noongar artist Gloria Egan, CAN delivered a series of workshops in New Norcia and Moora where participants shared their stories and created their own ‘bush baby’, each doll with a family story connected to it.
Local Noongar woman Margaret Drayton’s piece featured two baby dolls connected to a tree – a tribute to her daughter who buried the placentas from her pregnancies under a tree on land connected to their family. As part of the project, Moora Elders also visited birthing sites around the area with CAN photographer Christophe Canato, who photographed the Elders honouring their Bush Baby stories and ancestors. The Moora project reunited the Moora Aboriginal community, recreated social links and celebrated Noongar culture.
“When I started doing research about my background and my family, I was forty and I started finding out who I was and where I came from, who were my people. My artwork is all representing children, children that were taken away. So that’s how I tell my story, I tell all my stories in my artwork.”
“These dolls represent my grandchildren and their connection to country. I did the dolls attached to the placenta because my daughter and I buried the placentas of my two grandchildren under a tree at the Old Cottages site at New Norcia. The reason we did that is because we know from the stories we’ve been told, like my mother and her children when they were born, the placentas were buried in the gardens around the cottages. The butterfly represents new life. During the burial ceremony, we had a beautiful butterfly with us.”
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