Florence

Mrs Rutter with Prince Rudy Dinah and a group of Carrolup girls. Photographer: Noel White, 31st July 1949. Noel & Lily White Collection.

Mrs Rutter with Prince Rudy Dinah and a group of Carrolup girls. Photographer: Noel White, 31st July 1949. Noel & Lily White Collection.

In July 1949, a 71-year old Englishwoman Mrs Florence Rutter briefly visits Carrolup and purchases five pounds worth of drawings and designs. She exhibits the drawings and designs in eight cities around Australia and New Zealand, and receives many orders for the children’s artworks.

The Department of Native Affairs agrees that Mrs Rutter can exhibit and sell the children’s art in Europe, with all money to be used to support the children’s art activities.

Mrs Rutter and her friend Mrs Vera Hack visit Carrolup for three days at the end of January 1950, soon after the Department of Native Affairs has moved the girls away to missions. The two women receive a rousing welcome from the boys. Mrs Rutter is amazed by the strong values of the boys and their exemplary behaviour.

‘In every way they were exemplary – attentive, interested, appreciative, grateful, polite, unselfish, sporting and physically courageous. I hope that my own grandchildren will develop these traits as definitely as these little aboriginal boys…’ Mrs Florence Rutter, 1950

Mrs Rutter is deeply saddened by the squalid conditions in which the children live, and aims to highlight these conditions to the outside world, whilst helping the boys help themselves by earning money from their beautiful art.

Four unidentified Carrolup boys with their pastel drawing books. Photographer: Vera Hack, January 1950. Noel & Lily White Collection.

Four unidentified Carrolup boys with their pastel drawing books. Photographer: Vera Hack, January 1950. Noel & Lily White Collection.

Before leaving Carrolup armed with more artworks to exhibit and sell, Mrs Rutter presents Parnell Dempster with a set of oil paints and he creates what is thought to be the first oil painting done by an Australian Aboriginal.

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