The Bush Babies Kellerberrin project started in 2012, involving more than 80 community members in a series of photographic workshops, photo documentation, digital recordings, research trips and community storytelling events.
The project involved the State Library, photographers Jarred Seng, Tash Nannup and Richard Watson, as well as scrapbooking expert Raelee Cook.
As well as searching the WA State Library archives for long lost photos, the community of Kellerberrin wanted to create their own contemporary collection of family photographs.
Most importantly, they wanted intergenerational photos to capture their strength and resilience. CAN engaged professional photographers to work alongside families and empower them to record their own catalogue of family memories.
For the Winmar family, it meant capturing a historic photo featuring five generations of their family. At the heart of this picture is Hazel Winmar, who at the time of this project was the oldest Noongar woman alive. Hazel, affectionately known as ‘Nana Purple’, inspired many community gatherings in which birthing stories were shared and new and old photos were collected.
CAN were fortunate in securing the talents of Jarrad Seng, Australian music photographer who works with artists such as Ed Sheeran, Matchbox Twenty, Matt Corby and Passenger. Through a twist of fate, he was both available and incredibly keen to take on a CAN digital photography workshop in Kellerberrin. Part of his brief was to capture photos of Nana Purple at her 98th birthday party.
Capturing and celebrating the strength and resilience of Noongar families in the Eastern Wheatbelt, Bush Babies Kellerberrin culminated in a photographic exhibition at the local Black Ant Gallery. The exhibition documented current cultural and family knowledge, including archival photographs that shared stories from the community’s past.
CAN also produced a DVD compilation featuring every photo and video taken throughout Bush Babies Kellerberrin, and with the community produced a calendar featuring cultural information and family photographs taken during the project.
Included was a sublime candid image of Nana Purple taken by Jarrad at her birthday party. Cuballing artist Graham Smith saw this portrait of Nana Purple at the Bush Babies Narrogin launch in 2013 and felt instantly compelled to paint her. His oil on canvas portrait was as stunning as the photo that inspired it, and Jarrad and Graham’s tribute to Nana Purple encouraged CAN, in partnership with ART ON THE MOVE, to create The Bush Babies: Honouring Our Elders touring portrait exhibition which opened during NAIDOC week in 2014.