A Story to Tell by Laurel Nannup was first published by UWA Publishing, with the Charles and Joy Staples South West Region Publications Fund, all the way back in 2006 and has recently reached its third print run. Over the 18 years this book has been in print it has continued to be a book that touches readers' hearts through Nannup's captivating storytelling, expressive artworks, and family photographs.
Laurel Nannup's autobiographical book brings to life her childhood growing up in a large Aboriginal family.
While her stories include a time spent at the Wandering Mission, their main focus is on memories of family life: picnics, roaming through the bush, sharing campfire tales, and events such as buying a new dress and her First Communion.
A Story to Tell is illustrated with Laurel's striking woodcuts and etchings, which, together with a selection of photographs, complement the warm and affectionate humour of her story.
What road are you going to take? Etching by Laurel Nannup 2001
From the introduction by Laurel Nannup:
These stories are of my experiences as a young child and a teenager. I feel I need to leave some stories behind.
It is important for me to record my stories because throughout my younger life I felt I didn’t know much about my culture, except the little bits Dad told me. My son would often ask me things about my culture and I felt I had no stories to tell. But once I started at Curtin Uni and got talking with other Nyoongars, I began to remember certain things that happened in my life and I realised that these are my stories. They are my life.
After looking through my old photographs, many memories stirred. I thought of when we lived in the bush, helping Dad and Mum work, and back to the days when we lived on the reserve in Pinjarra. Then there were the happy times with my grandparents, uncles, aunties, cousins, brothers, sisters, but most of all my nan, Tottie (Christine) Hart. I have lots of memories of the Wandering Mission, some sad and some happy ones. I would like to thank the Sisters who looked after us at the Mission. Thank you for caring for all the girls and boys. Thank you.
I saw an exhibition of art works by Salvatore Zofrea, where he told his life story through woodcuts. This gave me the idea of telling my stories about my family and Mission life. To me his prints were the best and I was very inspired by his work.
My etchings and woodcuts are just another way to tell my stories; they are a way of communicating with people. I would like people to look at the smaller pictures as if they were looking through the eyes of a child. The three larger text pieces are more to do with me trying to remember my stories and trying to catch hold of my memories.
ABOUT LAUREL NANNUP
Laurel Nannup was born in Carrolup, Western Australia in 1943. She completed postgraduate studies at Curtin University of Technology (now Curtin University) Perth, in 2001 after graduating with a Bachelor of Arts (Fine Arts) in 2000. Laurel has participated in a number of exhibitions including solo exhibition Boodja (country), Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (2005); Nyungar, Moores building, Fremantle (2003); and Shell Print Awards, Fremantle Arts Centre (2002). Laurel has also been the recipient of a number of public and private commissions. Most recently, a collection of Laurel’s artworks were exhibited at the State Library of Western Australia (October, 2023). The exhibition was titled: Laurel Nannup: What Road Are You Going To Take? after Laurel’s 2001 artwork of the same name.