Harnessing contemporary art forms to celebrate Noongar language, heritage and culture, Place Names combines community-held knowledge with academic rigour to unpack the original meanings behind Noongar placenames.
Inspired by Len Collard’s seminal research which highlights that every Noongar placename is a sentence often describing a place’s meaning, CAN and Moodjar Consultancy have developed a community-led model that decodes the ancient meanings embedded in placenames, through artistic expression. The process puts Noongar knowledge at the forefront, drawing on local Elders’ language and memories as primary sources, while drawing on historical documents and wordlists created by European settlers, to uncover the meaning of the placename.
Working through this model, the community reaches consensus and begins the creative process resulting in collaborative artworks – developed by local Elders, students and emerging creators, alongside professional artists. This powerful collective action promotes intergenerational learning, a shared understanding of cultural identity and reconciliation as the use of Noongar placenames spreads throughout the wider community.
Place Names is a Community Arts Network Project supported through the Australian Government’s Indigenous Languages and Arts program, The Australia Council for the Arts and Principal Partner Moodjar Consultancy