Bush Babies

National Exhibition Register

  • Looking after the past
    Wes Gliddon Looking after the past, 2014
    acrylic on canvas
    Image Credit
    Image courtesy Graham Smith

About the exhibition

Community Arts Network in partnership with ART ON THE MOVE are proud to present an exhibition of portrait paintings and photographs that honour the strength and resilience of Noongar Elders from Western Australia's Wheatbelt. 

The ART ON THE MOVE touring exhibition Bush Babies – Honouring our Elders born in the bush is a collection of paintings of sixteen Elders who were painted as part of Community Arts Network's Bush Babies community arts project, which records and preserves the unique stories of the Elders who were born in the bush, reserves, missions or fringes of towns. 

The paintings, and the short stories that accompany them, open a window on a sorry part of our history. The Elders featured in this exhibition all lived under harsh government policies that denied them basic human rights, including the privilege of being born at the local hospital. Many of them were born in tents, makeshift shelters or under the stars, with senior women in their families serving as midwives. This exhibition gives an outlet to share this story to audiences and create awareness of these issues amongst communities. 

The exhibition was inspired by a single photograph taken during one of Community Arts Network's digital media workshops. The photographer, Jarrad Seng, who is well known for his work with musicians Ed Sheeran and Passenger, captured a stunning image of Ballardong Elder Hazel Winmar. The photograph inspired Wheatbelt artist Graham Smith to paint her portrait and this in turn inspired other artists to come forward to volunteer to honour an elder on canvas. 

“The first time I saw Jarrad Seng's marvellous photo of Nana Purple (Hazel Winmar), I knew that this was a painting I had to do. I feel very privileged to be a part of this Bush Babies Elders Portrait project and I hope it continues to open doors towards reconciliation and the honouring of Elders all around Australia." - said Artist Graham Smith. 

Hazel who was affectionately known as 'Nana Purple' sadly passed away shortly after her 100th birthday and the official opening of the Bush Babies exhibition in Perth. Her family wanted the exhibition to continue as a tribute to her memory. 

A mix of professional and student artists have painted the portraits that feature in the show. All painters volunteered their time to honour the Noongar Elders. Many of the non-indigenous artists who took part, lived alongside the Elders in their town, but knew little or nothing about them or the hardship and oppression they endured. Bush Babies – Honouring our Elders born in the bush has already reached 72,000 people in Perth alone, being on show at WA Museum, and is continuing its tour with ART ON THE MOVE across regional Western Australia. 

Artists and Curator

Michelle White

Mike Beckwith, Joan Crosby, Ned Crossley, Sharyn Egan, Margaret Fleay, Tash Gillespie, Karen Keeley, Erica McQueen, Sue Riley, Jarrad Seng, Graham Smith, Ross Storey, Curtis Taylor, Helen Warrilow, Jay West and Michelle White.

Available Dates and
Exhibition Details

Available dates
01/04/2016 - 31/12/2018
Exhibition size
Between 50-75 sq or running metres
Originating state
Organised by
Community Arts Network (CAN)
Contact to discuss
Web Site
Accompanying materials available
Catalogue/Book, Digital Catalogue, Education Kit, Exhibition Tour Manual, Interpretative/Didactic Panels, Invitations or Invitation Template, Labels, Media Kit, Public Program Opportunities
Primary contact
Olivia Nichols
Exhibitions Touring Officer
(08) 9249 3479
Secondary contact
Kim Jameson
0419 193 605
An ART ON THE MOVE touring exhibition. ART ON THE MOVE is supported by the State Government through the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries.