drawings

01/02/2019
Doris Flatt, one of Florence Rutter's daughters, during her interview with John Stanton at her home in Williton, Somerset, UK, in 2006.

Interview With Doris Flatt: Part 2

Doris Flatt was one of daughters of Florence Rutter, the self-appointed ‘ambassador’ to the Carrolup child artists. Over 100 years old at the time of the interview, Doris had strong memories of her mother’s great enthusiasm for their art, as she was determined to bring it to the […]
11/01/2019
Imagined corroboree by Reynold Hart, watercolour and ink on paper, 25 x 30cm, c.1948. Stan, Melvie and Gael Phillips Collection, 1947 - 65, Berndt Museum of Anthropology. [WU7255]

The Corroboree Artworks

A previous blog highlighted the child artists’ fascination with the liminality of dusk, the period between day and night. The night was also a time for ceremony. This is depicted most evocatively in, for example, Reynold Hart’s ‘Dancing Figures’, or his deceptively titled ‘Imagined Corroboree’—deceptive, in that this was […]
08/01/2019
Hunters by Revel Cooper, pastel on paper, 29 x 38cm, c.1948. Stan, Melvie and Gael Phillips Collection, 1947 – 65, Berndt Museum of Anthropology. [WU7304]

The Liminality of Dusk

The Carrolup child artists appear to have been particularly fascinated with the liminality of dusk. That is, the period between day and night when the light gradually fades to become night; when the breeze settles and becomes stillness personified, and when colours become simply black and white. When […]
09/11/2018
Hunters by Revel Cooper, pastel on paper, 29 x 38cm, c.1948. Stan, Melvie and Gael Phillips Collection, 1947 – 65, Berndt Museum of Anthropology. [WU7304]

Reconnecting

As described in my last blog, I travelled with Ezzard Flowers and Athol Farmer, Noongar leaders from South West Western Australia, in April 2005 to inspect the newly rediscovered artworks at Colgate University, Hamilton, New York State, with a view to borrowing a selection for an exhibition at […]
09/11/2018
Howard Morphy and Ezzard Flowers inspect the painting that Athol Farmer brought from Katanning to give to the President of Colgate University, Rebecca Chopp.

A Long Way From Home

It had been a long journey, though both space and time. Here we were, paused at the lintel of the Storeroom at Picker Gallery, Colgate University. 18,432km from home, to be precise. We were about to relink ourselves with the ‘lost’ Carrolup artworks, 55 years since they had […]
09/11/2018
The creek by Simpson Kelly, pastel on paper, 18.5 x 24 cm, c.1948. Noel & Lily White Collection, Berndt Museum of Anthropology. [WU7563]

Connection

When teacher Noel White arrives at Carrolup in May 1946, he is unable to communicate with the Aboriginal children. They sit sullenly and silently at their schoolroom desks. ‘The first week at school with our new teacher we were all scared stiff. I think if it wasn’t for […]
09/11/2018
Exhibition of Carrolup art at Boans department store, The West Australian , 23rd October 1947. The boys from left to right are Claude Kelly, Barry Loo, Reynold Hart and Parnell Dempster. Noel & Lily White Collection.

Acclaim

In 1947, the children’s drawings attract public attention locally at the Katanning Show, and further afield in Perth. ​Three children (Reynold Hart, Dulcie Penny and Vera Wallam) have their articles accepted in the Lord Forrest Centenary Booklet – in competition with other children from all over the state – whilst Parnell Dempster […]
09/11/2018
The 1948 Carrolup School football team with their teacher, Noel White.

Football

The success of the children, along with the trusting and loving relationship that has developed between the children and their teachers, lead to increased jealousy and conflicts amongst Settlement staff, as well as to violence and government inquiries. Staff turnover at Carrolup is high, and several superintendents are […]
09/11/2018
Mrs Rutter with Prince Rudy Dinah and a group of Carrolup girls. The girl second from the left is Mildred Jones. Photographer: Noel White, 31st July 1949. Noel & Lily White Collection.

Florence

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 […]
09/11/2018
Part of a letter from Reynold Hart to Mrs Rutter which appeared in the Daily Graphic article ‘Can Your Child Draw Like This?’ in the UK on the 29th July 1950. Noel & Lily White Collection.

Letters

Once Mrs. Rutter returns to the U.K., she continues to update the School on her progress. She receives many welcome letters from the Carrolup boys during 1950. ‘Every letters [sic] you write Mr White reads it out to the school children. We are very proud of you and […]
09/11/2018
Parnell Dempster's Down to Drink adorns a wall at the 45th Annual Exhibition of the Pastel Society in London, 1951. Mrs Rutter proudly discusses the drawing with Mr and Mrs Richter. Mary Durack Miller Collection, J. S. Battye Library of West Australian History, 1951.

Europe

Initially, Native Affairs Commissioner Mr S G Middleton writes enthusiastic letters to Mrs Rutter. She organises an exhibition in Appeldoorn, the Netherlands, where the art is acclaimed. People’s perceptions of ‘Stone-Age’ Aboriginal people are changed. However, an open conflict breaks out between the new supervisor at Carrolup, Mr […]
09/11/2018
Article by school headmaster John Stokes, The West Australian , 24th February 1951. Noel & Lily White Collection.

Outcry

Mr Middleton tries to justify the school’s closure in a letter to The West Australian newspaper. He talks about sending the boys to missions and says: ‘… they will at last begin to receive some spiritual education and training which may not yet be too late to stabilise sufficiently their characters to a point where they may […]
09/11/2018
Untitled [Landscape with Fallen Tree] by Parnell Dempster, pastel and graphite on paper, 23 x 29.1cm, 1953. The Herbert Mayer Collection of Carrolup Artwork, John Curtin Gallery, Curtin University.

Shattered

The boys’ dreams of a better future are shattered by the school closure and their later experiences in a white dominated society which considers them ‘inferior’. Revel Cooper says the decision to close the school: ‘… closed the pathway to a better way of life for coloured people.’ […]
09/11/2018
Ezzard Flowers, John Stanton and Athol Farmer inspecting the ‘lost’ Carrolup Collection at the Picker Art Gallery at Colgate University, 12th April 2005. Berndt Museum of Anthropology. [WU/P32228]

Discovery

In 2004, John Stanton’s close Australian friend Professor Howard Morphy is invited to visit Colgate University in Upper New York State by the Director of Colgate’s Picker Gallery. The Gallery set aside some Aboriginal artefacts for him to look at. When Howard arrives, the Gallery Curator, Diane Butler, mentions that […]
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