Welcome to our new Storytelling, Education and Healing online resource. My name is David Clark and I am one of three co-Founders of The Carrolup Story. My colleagues in this venture are John Stanton, like me from Perth, Western Australia, and web developer Ash Whitney from Neath in South Wales.
Forty-two years ago, John Stanton first viewed a Revel Cooper drawing. Little did John know then, but he had started a journey of discovery about Carrolup that continues today. He would be Director of the Berndt Museum of Anthropology for 38 years, sharing the art and culture of Aboriginal people to a wide, appreciative audience. He would work closely with the Noongar people of South West Australia, the Aboriginal group of people with which the Carrolup Story is most closely associated.
I was working on my PhD in Psychology in the UK forty years ago, on the road to a career in neuroscience—studying the relationship between brain function and behaviour—which lasted until the start of the new millennium.
I made a radical career change soon after becoming a Professor in Psychology at the University of Swansea in Wales, developing the Wired In initiative to empower and connect people to facilitate their recovery from substance use and associated problems. I launched Sharing Culture, an online educational initiative to facilitate the healing of historical trauma, in 2014, just over five years after I had moved to Perth.
I first met Ash Whitney in 2000 and he built my first ever website, the drug and alcohol news portal Daily Dose. We have remained good friends since then, and Ash has built me a number of websites, including the Recovery Stories website in 2013. I couldn’t think of a better person to help John and I build The Carrolup Story.
Once we met, it didn’t take John and I long to realise that we wanted to be working together. We were both very passionate about the Carrolup Story, had complementary skills which were a big plus for the project, and had quickly become close friends. We later discovered, strangely enough, that we both nearly ended up at The London Film School in the early 1970s!
Traumatised Aboriginal children living in the squalor of a 1940s government native settlement in Western Australia create beautiful landscape drawings that gain international acclaim, challenge a government’s racist policies and inspire four generations of Noongar artists.
Our one-liner captures just one element of the fascinating Carrolup Story. As our project unfolds, you will be able to join our journey through time, as we share many Stories from before, during and after the period that the Aboriginal child artists lived at Carrolup.
The Aboriginal children of Carrolup ‘reached out’ to white society with their drawings in the 1940s. We are now helping them reach out again. We will celebrate the children’s artistic talents, as well as their scholastic, musical and sporting achievements, and their strong personal values and sense of community.
We will also celebrate the achievements of Noel White, the teacher who helped the children overcome their trauma and inspired their art, and the 71-year old Englishwoman Florence Rutter who exhibited the Carrolup art on both sides of the world to much public acclaim.
We will highlight the roles played by other non-Aboriginal people who helped the children during their time at Carrolup, and after the school closure when the children faced the adversities of living in a white-dominated society that considered them ‘inferior’.
In developing this resource, we aim that Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people will walk alongside each other on equal terms to help create a society where people have an improved wellness, are more respectful, caring and empathic towards their fellow man, and more protective of our planet.
The Carrolup Story online resource is part of our wider Carrolup initiative, that will include publication of a book, Aboriginal Child Artists of Carrolup, in mid-2019. We also intend to make a feature-length documentary based on this Story, working with award-winning Cinematographer Simon Akkerman (please see below).
We aim to help catalyse grassroots activity in local Noongar communities and further afield, in order to facilitate healing from intergenerational trauma and its consequences (e.g. addiction, mental health problems).
We hope you will spend time exploring our website. Please check out a summary of the Story of the child artists of Carrolup, written in 12 short instalments. We also explain the importance of our project, and its development from my perspective. You can start to learn of John Stanton’s role in this Story in his first blog post.
We will be blogging regularly about different elements of the Story, as well as on a wide range of related issues. We want to give people the opportunity to learn more about trauma and intergenerational trauma, the healing of trauma and its consequences, Aboriginal culture, art, and various other matters.
One part of our website will contain all blogs related to healing. We have also included a Healing Video Gallery, for which I have selected my favourite videos from YouTube that are relevant to the healing of trauma. I will blog about these videos as time proceeds.
You can also read more About Us and Contact Us if you wish. You will see that we have not added a comments section on our pages. We decided to have comments on The Carrolup Story Facebook page and Facebook Group for at least the time being. Do contact us if you have something to say about our website and/or content.
This is only the first stage of development of our website and overall initiative. As our project develops further, we aim to film some of our activities. Our proposed documentary will not only focus on the events of the past, but also on our continuing investigations of the Carrolup Story and the healing of trauma, our interactions with Noongar people in the South West of our state, and the continuing development of our website and other initiatives.
Our project has proceeded with no funding to date. However, we now need to raise funds to realise our ambitious aims. We will start a fundraising campaign in 2019 to help the further development of this online resource, and the making of our Carrolup documentary.
I would like to thank those people who have helped us develop this project, including Noelene White, the daughter of Carrolup teacher Noel White. She has provided us with access to treasured family items related to her family’s life at Carrolup Native Settlement. She has been a tremendous inspiration to both John and I.
In honour of Noelene, we have decided to launch The Carrolup Story on her 85th birthday.
Happy Birthday, Noelene.
This project has also been encouraged, and inspired, by many Noongar people, including cultural leaders, leading experts in the healing of trauma, and a range of others.
For me personally, Judy and Carlie Atkinson (We Al-li healing program), Revel Cooper’s niece Cathy Coomer, Tony Davis (who is writing a biography of Bella Kelly), Robert and Selina Eggington (Dumbartung Aboriginal Corporation), Karen Hume, Jan James (genealogist and historian), Wazza Jones, Mike Liu and Kaiyu Moura have been a particular inspiration.
A big thanks to Mike Liu for helping us prepare our film clips and then upload them (using a decent bandwidth!) to our YouTube channel. This was all done at very short notice and was also accompanied by stimulating discussion about what we are doing.
I wish to say that I am thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate with the Berndt Museum of Anthropology at The University of Western Australia – it is our Partner in this initiative.
I am particularly grateful to Dr Vanessa Russ, the Director of the Berndt Museum, who has made this collaboration possible. I look forward to working with Vanessa and her staff into the future. This Partnership will benefit our exploration of innovative ways of telling The Carrolup Story.
We hope that you enjoy your time on The Carrolup Story—and even feel inspired.
Please tell your friends about our initiative. We want to engage as many people as possible worldwide. And please feel free to write in and tell us what you think about the website.
Thank you for your time.
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