Naidoc Week: Dianella photographer captures meaning of ‘Because of her we can’

Photographer Sasha Mortimore. Photo: David Baylis
Photographer Sasha Mortimore. Photo: David Baylis

CAPTURING striking images of three generations of empowered Aboriginal females is the basis of Dianella photographer Sasha Mortimore’s latest project to celebrate Naidoc Week from July 8-15.

Inspired by this year’s theme, ‘Because of her we can’, she captured Balga resident Evelyn Mitchell, daughter Anne Mitchell and granddaughter Dana Woodley to represent their matriarchal heritage.

Former Mercy College (Koondoola) schoolmates, Mrs Mortimore and Anne worked together to bring the project to life with Ms Mitchell and her only daughter Dana (10) flying to Perth from Karratha for the occasion.

Three generations: Balga resident Evelyn Mitchell with her granddaughter Dana Woodley and daughter Anne Mitchell. Photographer: Sasha Mortimore.

Ms Mitchell, who comes from the Pitjakarli tribe and is part of the Nygangumarta language group, said the project recognised strong influential women in her family who shaped her identity and who taught her how to mentor younger generations through a connection to her indigenous culture.

“My late grandmother Lucy Mitchell was a big part of my life growing up and I learnt who I was through her and discovered myself through her taking me back to country and showing me where we’re from, out near Telfer where I felt a big sense of belonging,” she said.

“My grandmother is my roots, my rock and as indigenous people our grandmothers are who we are and it’s important to have that bond because it shapes your identity.”

Sasha Mortimore.

Ms Mitchell’s grandmother Lucy and her husband Ernie were civil rights advocates and helped lead one of the longest strikes in Australia where unpaid Aboriginal labourers stopped working in Pilbara pastoral stations.

Ms Mitchell said her mother Evelyn grew up knowing the strength of her mother and knowing her worth which had filtered down the generations.

“My mum is an indigenous mentor too and she’s helped a lot of indigenous women and men in Telfer through the issue of having a gold mine up there and supporting them for our land rights,” she said.

Three generations: Balga resident Evelyn Mitchell with her granddaughter Dana Woodley and daughter Anne Mitchell. Photographer: Sasha Mortimore.

“My mother has done so much for other people, not just indigenous people but for other cultures and I look up to her in that respect because she walks in those two worlds, she’s my role model and I wish to show my daughter that we need to help everybody, not just our people.

“Remembering our past and knowing that time can change and things can be better, we all just need to work together.”