Revel Cooper

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 […]
17/04/2019
A pastel drawing, 28.5 x 22cm, by Dulcie Penney from one of her government-issued schoolbooks. The Myrtle K Benn Collection, 1947.

Did the Carrolup girls draw, too? Yes!

People often ask me, ‘Did the girls at Carrolup draw, we only hear about the boys?’ There is a lot to say about this, much of it reflecting the punitive control the then Department of Native Affairs had over Aboriginal people’s lives, including those of the children. When […]
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 […]
12/03/2019
Department of Native Affairs file on James Cooper, father of Carrolup artist Revel Cooper (p. 1).

Revel Cooper’s Early Life

Revel Cooper became one of the most famous, if not the most famous, of the Carrolup artists. However, he lived a troubled life, despite his success as an artist. Revel spent many years in and out of prison in Western Australia and Victoria. He also suffered from a drinking problem, […]
16/01/2019
Blackboys by Revel Cooper, watercolour on paper, 38 x 57cm, 1964. Purchased from George Abdullah, Perth, 1965. Berndt Museum of Anthropology. [WU3269]

Carrolup: John Stanton’s 40-Year Journey

As my colleague John Stanton is away on holiday in New Zealand, I thought I’d take this opportunity to blog about John’s association with Carrolup for a period of over 40 years. That’s a serious, long-standing interest and commitment! The initial large section of this blog come from […]
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 […]
07/12/2018
The children's dormitories at Carrolup today. Photograph taken by John Stanton on 26th November 2018.

Institutionalisation of the Carrolup children

In recent blog posting, David revealed the memories of Carrolup artist Revel Cooper about life on Carrolup in the first half of 1940s, when the children were ‘running wild’. In his most recent posting, he described Revel’s memories of the time when Mrs Elliot was teacher between 1945 […]
05/12/2018
Photographs of three of the Carrolup boys. Sunday Times , 7th July 1945. Retrieved from Trove, National Library of Australia.

The Arrival of Mrs Elliot at Carrolup

In my last blog, I wrote how Michael Liu and I found a ‘letter’ written by Carrolup artist Revel Cooper in 1960, which described how the children were ‘running wild’ at Carrolup Native Settlement during the first half of the 1940s. Revel went on to say: After the […]
03/12/2018
First page of a description of life at Carrolup Native Settlement written by Carrolup artist Revel Cooper in 1960. Doreen Trainor Collection, J. S. Battye Library of West Australian History. [Click the image to see the full page. The letter continued, '... were of the very lowest standards' on the second page.]

Running Wild – Revel Cooper’s Memories of Carrolup

When close friend and filmmaker Michael Liu and I were researching the life of Carrolup artist Revel Cooper, we came across an important ‘letter’ he wrote that was in the Doreen Trainor Collection at Battye Library. Revel wrote his memories of Carrolup Native Settlement from the time he […]
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
Aboriginal children of Carrolup in the early 1940s. J. S. Battye Library of West Australian History.

Trauma

Revel Cooper, a Noongar boy, is made a Ward of the State by the Department of Native Affairs and sent to Carrolup at the age of six in 1940. In a letter written in 1960 about life on Carrolup Native Settlement, Revel presents a vivid picture of Aboriginal […]
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
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.’ […]
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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