Bush Babies played a vital role in Moora, where the sharing of stories 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 in which beautiful, hand crafted Noongar dolls were created to tell the personal stories of their makers.
For their Bush Babies journey, the women of Moora focused on using a variety of natural materials and ancestral techniques to create textile ‘babies from the bush’, paying tribute to their ancestors who were among the last generation of Noongar babies born on country.
In 2014, with local Noongar artist Gloria Egan, CAN delivered a series of workshops in eco-dyeing, basket weaving and doll making in New Norcia and Moora. These yarning circles provided rich ground for storytelling where participants shared poignant memories from Moore River and New Norcia missions. For some, their birthing stories were of mothers and fathers being separated from children during what we now acknowledge as the Stolen Generation.
Each handcrafted doll is not only a work of art, but a unique form of cultural transmission representing an important birthing tradition or personal story. As a testament to their survival, one family wanted to share a birthing tradition they are proud to keep alive, the ritual burial of placentas to connect babies to home country. They did this through story sharing, creative gatherings and coming together to hand craft the beautiful bespoke dolls.
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.
Bush Babies Moora reunited the Moora Aboriginal community, reconnected social links and celebrated Noongar culture. Many stories have been preserved via the creation of dolls, oral history recordings and professional photography that will be passed onto future generations.
CAN produced the Bush Babies Eco Bundle Dye Instruction Manual, Capturing The Colours Of The Six Noongar Seasons and a publication highlighting some of the powerful stories and artworks collected at the Moora and New Norcia workshops.