Passion project of past Narrogin resident featuring in Perth exhibition

Campbell WilliamsonNarrogin Observer
Two of Geri Hayden’s doll.
Camera IconTwo of Geri Hayden’s doll. Credit: Acorn Photo/Robert Frith/Acorn Photo, Acorn Photo

The passion project of a former Narrogin resident of more than 30 years will feature in an upcoming exhibition in Perth.

Toy Stories runs at the Midland Junction Arts Centre from November 13 to February 12, bringing together artists, hobbyists and community groups in a show of handmade toys.

Geri Hayden arrived in Narrogin in 1984, seeing first-hand the powerful impact of handcrafted dolls while working with the Noongar community.

“When I was in Narrogin working with Community Arts Network, our old nannas all got together and developed these dolls and they called them the Noongar Dolls,” she said.

“We started Noongar Dolls and called them Yarns of the Heart. The dolls they made were about somebody special in their life.

“These old people made them from all kinds of textiles, grass, wires and those dolls were pretty famous. They went all around and ended up in the Canberra museum where they still are now.

“It was a magnificent project.”

Geri Hayden with one of her dolls.
Camera IconGeri Hayden with one of her dolls.

Toy Stories delves into the history of toys in WA, presenting historical and contemporary works. Ms Hayden said her dolls were made using natural materials and carried personal significance.

“I take flowers, wildflowers or gum leaves in the native bush and I treat them and put them in a steamer, and the steam actually brings out the eco dyes of the leaves or whatever material it is,” she said.

“The dolls that I’ve picked and done are often around children, babies, mothers and grandmothers, so there are three or four different ages I’ve put in.

“It’s about my family and why I do it is because when I get down and out it clears my mind, it makes me think about good things.”

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails