The making of Noongar dolls has a history that goes way back to the improvised making and play that Elders recall from times living on reserves and on country. Materials were as eclectic as the dolls themselves – bush nuts, pegs and sauce bottles refashioned to fuel the imagination and joy of Noongar children. In 2010, CAN brought Nalda Searles and Cecile Williams to Narrogin, and in doing so, brought back to life a growing tradition among Narrogin and Pingelly Noongar families.
Each Noongar doll created is unique, its individual character telling the story of the creator. Whether it defines ‘freedom’ as taking your shoes off at the end of a hard day, depicts a traditional story, tells of the strength of grandmothers, sisters, fathers, or self, the dolls have become significant storytellers within the community.
The doll makers share stories of how special it was watching their grandmothers making the original dolls. In bringing this art form back to life for themselves and their children, they are creating their own history and tradition as their story is captured in the heart of their doll.