Noongar woman Jeanette Garlett of the Upper Swan river region next to the NBN box wrapped with a piece of her artwork.

Memories of the Swan Valley give NBN box a makeover

May 31, 2023

NOONGAR woman Jeanette Garlett of the Midland, Upper Swan River region has a piece of her artwork decorating an NBN box next to Carnegie Triangle Park.
Altogether six NBN boxes in Midland and Woodbridge will over coming weeks be decorated with the work of local artists as part of a Swan Street Gallery project.
The idea for the street gallery came after former Woodbridge resident Morgan Shaw complained about tagging in the area and put forward the NBN’s artistic solution to graffiti.
Thanks to her late mother Elizabeth’s knowledge of country, culture and seasonal bush foods, Garlett has been able to create and paint her stories from a very early age.
Garlett’s Memories of the Swan Valley, 2019 was inspired by her recollections of areas such as Jane Brook, Toodyay Road, Wexcome (now called Stratton), Yagan’s bridge and as far north as Bindoon.
“I grew up an isolated person – a loner more or less.
“Then I went over east for nearly 30 years to Sydney then Queensland.’’
While there she had a son and worked in restaurants and looked after children.
“My dad was a timber cutter and provided timber for this workshop and the foundry and mum worked for the Italian and Yugoslavians so we went along all the way through,’’ she said.
A member of the Stolen Generations she was taken away from her mother when she was five-years-old and did not get back in contact with her family until she was 40.
“I lost them all – they were here but I didn’t know.’’
She said they would pass each other in the street and sometimes they would be looking at each other but didn’t know they were related.
“I worked in a restaurant near Johhny O’Keefe and Maureen O’Keefe’s shop in Darlinghurst, Oxford Street in Sydney.
“He used to come in around 10am - J.O.K - and he’d have his coffee.’’
Oil on canvas is Garlett’s favourite medium and her favourite bushfoods to paint are quandongs, yams and some bush medicines.
She plans for her paintings in the new year to be based on sunsets.
The Swan Street Gallery is a local arts initiative supported by the City of Swan and funded by NBN’s Rapt program - NBN contributed $5890.
The City and NBN both had a preference for artworks reflecting the local history of Midland.

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