Bush Babies on the River explored the untold stories of the Noongar babies who were born in the bush, in reserves or on the outskirts of towns. Many of these stories are from a time in our history when Aboriginal people were denied basic human rights and subjected to displacement. The Midland phase of CAN’s Bush Babies project attracted participants who were born all over the state, all united by their deep connection to the Midland region and regarding it as home.
Like many other Bush Babies projects, the community gatherings started with family history research, story recordings and photography. With many aspiring and practicing artists in the group, workshops evolved to suit the talents of participants and visual art was used to express personal birthing stories and connection to country.
Artist Natalie Scholtz and CAN Project Manager Michelle White facilitated painting and printmaking workshops, as well as a cultural mapping exercise to record important birthing locations on Swan River country.
The Midland participants each created an individual artwork and were professionally recorded while sharing their personal bush baby stories during interviews with Jemma King. One of the participants, Swan River traditional custodian Albert Corunna, spoke of his ancestral ties to the region, reaching as far back as Noongar freedom fighters Yagan and Midgegooroo.
Participants' oral histories edited by Jemma King are showcased in the Bush Babies on the River CD/booklet along with copies of their artworks to pass on to future generations.