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Balbuk’s Country: ‘Heirisson Island, Looking East’

  • Owner:
    Private Collector
  • Location:
    Perth, Western Australia
  • Maker:
    Elizabeth Humphreys
  • Pattern:
  • Pattern:
  • Dimensions:
    Height: 80
    Width: 80


This quilt belonged to the 15 piece 'Balbuk's Country' quilt set made by WA Inspired Art Quilters. The set was made at the suggestion of the National Trust of Australia (WA) to celebrate Fanny Balbuk, a female Noongar (Aboriginal) activist in the late 1800s.

The 'Heirisson Island, Looking East' quilt references Fanny in several ways. Heirisson Island in the Swan River, Western Australia (WA) is reputably where she was born. She certainly trod on the 'native path' through the island. Her family totem was a wordungmat (black crow). Swans were protein food for Noongar people. Egrets are recorded as being present in the mid 1800s and still can be seen today. Eucalyptus trees provided: wood for women's digging sticks; oil from leaves for medicinal purposes; nectar from flowers that were soaked in water for sweet drinks; bark for coolamon dishes; and bark for covering mia mias (shelters). Balgas (grass trees) hosted witchetty grubs, another protein food, and the stalks were used for tinder. The quilted landscape includes charred remains of fire which was used for so called 'firestick' farming, and was sometimes lit unintentionally. The distant landscape is of the Darling Escarpment which has spiritual significance for Noongar people in that it represents the body of the Wagyl, a snake-like being that created lakes, waterways and rivers.

The quilt was used in advertising for the 2017 National Trust (WA) Heritage Festival, was featured at the opening of the festival together with the other quilts in the Balbuk's Country set, and was a centrepiece in the City of Perth Library display of the set for the duration of the festival.


Hand dyed fabrics and threads.

Hand and machine applique and quilting.

Hand embroidery.

800 x 800 mm


Inspired by watercolour paintings made by early European settlers in the Swan River Colony, Western Australia, in particular by the sparse vegetation shown in them.

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