When Bush Babies went to Narrogin in 2013 the project took another direction.
CAN had planned to run a series of digital media, storytelling, oral history and craft workshops to assist Noongar families in Narrogin and Katanning to tell their own Bush Babies stories. The project was launched in Narrogin with an exhibition of the imagery collected in Kellerberrin and Quairading. One of the features of the exhibition was an image of Hazel Winmar (Nana Purple), who was at the time the oldest Ballardong woman.
Nana Purple very sadly passed away in her home town of Kellerberrin surrounded by family and friends in 2014, at 100 years old. When local Narrogin artist Graham Smith saw the portrait of Nana Purple in the exhibition, he was so taken aback he wanted to paint her portrait. This inspired other artists, including Noongar artists, to honour the Elders in the exhibition by painting them and from that small seed, the Bush Babies: Honouring Our Elders Portrait Exhibition grew. The exhibition opened NAIDOC Week in 2014 at the WA Museum and State Library of WA with the Elders, artists and their families travelling from all over Noongar country to attend the launch. The exhibition was a huge success and attracted more than 72,000 visitors who shared in these Bush Babies’ stories.
“I feel very privileged to be a part of this Bush Babies Elders Portrait project and I hope it continues to open doors towards reconciliation and the honouring of Elders all around Australia.”
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