Parnell Dempster

16/07/2019
Some of the Carrolup young artists. Front row: Reynold Hart (Far Left), Parnell Dempster (Middle) and Revel Cooper (Far Right). Back row, 2nd Left: Barry Loo. Do you know who the other boys are?

Child Artists of Carrolup: Reflections

Mary Durack Miller, in association with Florence Rutter, wrote a book about the Aboriginal child artists of Carrolup entitled, Child Artists of the Australian Bush, which was published in June 1952. Florence Rutter met the child artists through her two visits to Carrolup in 1949 and 1950 and exhibited their artworks […]
19/06/2019

Meeting Parnell Dempster

I first met Parnell (‘Parnie’) Dempster in mid-1985 at the town of Williams, when I was commencing the Carrolup Project. He was living there at the time. Pat Nunn at the Marribank Family Centre had told me that he was one of only two surviving child artists of […]
04/06/2019

Silencing the Doubters

In June 1948, three of the Carrolup boys caused a sensation in the south coast town of Albany. Here is what happened, as described in our forthcoming book The Aboriginal Child Artists of Carrolup. “Education Inspector Charles ‘Sammy’ Crabbe organises a Convention of Departmental Teachers in Albany in […]
07/05/2019
A pastel by Parnell Dempster adorns a wall at the Pastel Society in London in 1951, proudly talked about by Mrs. Rutter.

Carrolup Art Reaches Europe

Just a reminder that you can find links to a summary of the Carrolup Story in 12 parts here. These summaries start with the impact of colonisation on Aboriginal people and end with the ‘missing’ Mrs Rutter collection of Carrolup art being permanently returned to Noongar Boodja (Country) […]
30/04/2019
Some of the Carrolup young artists. Front row: Reynold Hart (Far Left), Parnell Dempster (Middle) and Revel Cooper (Far Right). Back row, 2nd Left: Barry Loo. Do you know who the other boys are?

Noelene White’s Memories: The Art

Noelene White, daughter of Carrolup teacher Noel White, has worked closely with us on our project. In fact, John and Noelene have known each other for nearly 35 years. In an earlier blog, we included a section from the chapter Noelene White’s Memories in our forthcoming book which focused on […]
10/04/2019
The frieze below the ceiling in the westernmost dormitory at Carrolup. Photographed by John Stanton (The Carrolup Story), 27th November 2018.

The Dormitory Frieze

One of the most remarkable artefacts surviving at Carrolup/Marribank today is one element of a frieze that encircled one of the bedrooms in the westernmost of the two children’s dormitories—the left one viewed from the front of the buildings. According to Carrolup artist Parnell Dempster, the frieze comprised […]
26/02/2019
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.

Mrs Florence Rutter Visits Carrolup

One of the fascinating elements of the Carrolup Story is that the Aboriginal child artists had an ‘ambassador’ for their work, a 71-year old Englishwoman, Mrs Florence Rutter. Mrs Rutter was given permission by the Western Australian government to exhibit and sell the children’s art, first around Australia […]
12/02/2019
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.

Early Public Acclaim

How did the drawings of the Aboriginal children of Carrolup first become known to the general public? Here is a summary of some of the initial ‘successes’ of the children, which you can follow in more detail by reading the newspaper article to which we have linked. You […]
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 […]
29/11/2018
Carrolup School, a healing sanctuary during the time that Noel White was teacher, May 1946 - December 1950. Photographer: John Stanton, 26th November 2018.

Adventures in the South West

On Monday, John and I travelled down to Albany to stay with my good friend Tony Davis. We stopped at The Woolshed in Williams,  where John ate a tasty savoury muffin and I gorged on a lamb and rosemary pie.  John reflected on how he had stopped at […]
16/11/2018
The 1949 Carrolup Native Settlement School football team that won two football games in Perth in September 1949. They were 'Never Ever Beaten'. The West Australian 1st September 1949.

‘Never Ever Beaten’: Carrolup Football Team

Aboriginal boys at Carrolup Native Settlement weren’t just wonderful artists, they also had a fantastic football team. They played local schools and won very easily. For example, in 1949 they beat Katanning School by 21.19 to 1.2 and Wagin School by 18.7 to 0.3. In September that year, they were […]
15/11/2018
The children of Carrolup in their schoolroom with the White family and visitors from Katanning. Photographer: Noelene White, late 1948 or early 1949. Noel & Lily White Collection.

The Classroom Photo

Key to photo: (1) Edith Smith, (2) Johnny Smith, (3) Emily Bennett, (4) Revel Cooper, (5) Reynold Hart, (6) unknown, (7) Mervyn Smith, (8) Vera Wallam, (9) Parnell Dempster, (10) Ross Jones, (11) Tilly Wallam, (12) Janine Bennell, (13) Keith Indich, (14) Marlene Mead, (15) Philip Jackson, (16) […]
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
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
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.’ […]
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