A generation remembers – Born on Country exhibition traces Noongar history


Vanessa Corunna, traditional owner, giving a welcome to country on behalf of her father Albert Corunna at the Born on Country exhibition.
Vanessa Corunna, traditional owner, giving a welcome to country on behalf of her father Albert Corunna at the Born on Country exhibition.

PERSONAL stories about the last generation of Noongar Elders born on country is at the heart of a new exhibition being presented by Community Arts Network (CAN).

Oral history recordings and handcrafted dolls, along with portrait photography, are just some of the items on display at the Born on Country exhibit which also features paintings and the final phases of CAN’s Bush Babies project in Midland, Moora, Busselton and Mandurah.

This exhibition marks the end of an era for CAN, which is wrapping up its Bush Babies program after six years working across Noongar country.

Bush Babies highlighted the repatriation of long-lost family photos to the Noongar community; a touring exhibition of portrait paintings called Honouring our Elders and the discovery of a photographic collection capturing life on the Goomalling reserve which has been described as having international significance.

“Bush Babies has taken many shapes and forms over the years, but at the heart of this project is the stories of the Noongar babies who were born in the bush and the unsung midwives who delivered them,” chief executive Jo Metcalf said.

“These simple and poignant stories, and the artworks they’ve inspired, shed light on a moment in time which is sometimes not acknowledged in our history.”

Born on Country is on during the Naidoc Week celebrations at the Midland Junction Art Centre in partnership with DADAA, which will also be displaying artworks from their workshop programs.

The exhibition was opened last week by the Minister for Arts and Culture John Day and Badjaling Elder Winnie Mc Henry, who inspired the Bush Babies program.

Visitors to the exhibition will also have the chance to try their hand at eco dye, doll making and basket weaving.