Hand-made mosaic headstones are bringing healing and colour to bare grave sites in Kempsey, following a workshop held last week to teach Dunghutti locals how make the personalised headstones for loved ones.
The Paaka Thartu Karnu shows people the creative process of making the headstones for loved ones, some of whom have been without a headstone for 20 years.
Barkindji woman Monica Kerwin started the project with ceramicist Kelvin Thornycroft in Wilcannia.
Local Danielle Riley from Kempsey Neighbourhood Centre first heard about the project during the National Aboriginal Wellbeing Conference held in Coffs Harbour.
"I heard Monica speak at the conference and saw a real need for the project to be here in our community," Danielle said.
"Funerals and headstones can be very expensive. The process of paying for a funeral can cause financial stress as well as the emotional stress from losing a loved one.
"Many graves have been left with just a cross to state who the person is and it can stay that way for years."
Monica and Kelvin travelled to Kempsey last week to teach locals how to make the headstones for their loved ones.
"Now that there is a group of us who are trained in how to make them, we're hoping to keep the program going and teach others in the community," Danielle said.
It takes about one to two weeks to make the headstones and they cost between $300 and $400, a significantly lower price than purchasing one.
"There is also that added benefit of the grieving process and having a personalised headstone for family members."
For Danielle this isn't just a project for the community, it's a personal one. While being involved in the workshop over the past week, she has made a headstone for her mother and nephew, who passed away over 20 years ago when he was a child.
"He hasn't had a headstone for 20 years, there's just been a cross on his grave.
"There's no words to describe what it's like to be able to do this for them. When I go to see my mum now, there won't just be a cross there. Our sweat and tears have gone into making these and knowing they will now have a headstone is a wonderful feeling."
The group learning the skills of mosaic headstone making in Kempsey have made five headstones for adults in the past week, as well as two for children.
"We will be setting them up ourselves. There really is a sense of pride to be able to do this for our loved ones."