After the huge success of Phase 1 of the Noongar Pop Culture project which took the form of a music and language revival program, CAN returned to Narrogin Senior High School to engage female students in a fashion project that would help them embrace their identity, culture and creativity.
Seventeen students from years 8–10 took part in a two-month workshop program run by upcycling guru Lady Bananas, fashion designer Elisha Quintal and Noongar artists Sharyn Egan and Marcelle Riley. The workshops included upcycling (giving new life to old products), fashion design, dressmaking, eco-dyeing, weaving, photography and dance and had students creating handmade clothes and accessories that celebrated their culture.
The project aimed to motivate the students to attend school and provide them with new skills and opportunities. In the end, it achieved much more – the students said the project increased their confidence, unleashed their creativity and strengthened their pride in culture.
After completing their wares they took part in a fashion shoot with photographer Simon Pynt and choreographer Sete Tele, and paraded their handcrafted dresses in front of 900 people at the school’s 2014 NAIDOC assembly.
The student’s beautiful work was then exhibited at the Nexis Exhibition Space in Narrogin in late 2014 and attracted more than 250 visitors.
The project gained the attention of filmmakers from Curtin University’s current affairs program Noongar Dandjoo, who produced a documentary that aired on NITV in 2015. The film tells the story of the fashion project and includes interviews with the students and their families, school principal and CAN staff.
In June 2015, the exhibition was brought to the Wanneroo Regional Museum in Perth.