Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that this website, and its links, contain images and voices of people who have passed away.
Traumatised Aboriginal children living in the squalor of a 1940s government native settlement in Western Australia are inspired by their white schoolteacher to create beautiful landscape drawings that gain international acclaim, challenge a government’s racist policies, and inspire four generations of Noongar artists.
Connection uses ‘faces’ and ‘voices’ of the past to take you into a world where Aboriginal children rise above great adversity to create beautiful landscape drawings that are acclaimed on both sides of the world. Connection is a story of trauma, and the overcoming of trauma. A story that resonates in today’s world of the oppressed and their oppressors. A story of Hope, Heart and Healing.
'… the book is nothing short of incredible.' Carlie Atkinson, CEO, We Al-li Programs
In my last blog, I referred to a written description by Revel Cooper , one of the Carrolup child artists, about life on the native settlement before teacher Noel White’s arrival in May 1946. Revel also writes about teacher Olive Elliot, who arrives after the Carrolup children had […]
In my last few blogs, I have included sections of our recently launched book Connection: Aboriginal Child Artists Captivate Europe that described various elements of the colonisation process in Western Australia. Description of the colonisation process, which impacted so badly on Aboriginal people, provides a context to the story of […]
I continue including sections of our book Connection: Aboriginal Child Artists Captivate Europe, this one focused on the setting up of Carrolup Native Settlement. ‘The economic situation of Aboriginal people living in the South West deteriorates during the first decade of the 20th Century. From 1911, many Aboriginal […]
The colonisation of Australia by Europeans had a massive negative impact on a peoples and culture that has existed for over 50,000 years. The first settlers brought diseases that wiped out large numbers of Aboriginal people, as they had no immunity to European diseases. Many of the survivors existed […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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.’ […]
Social Anthropologist John Stanton first learns about the Carrolup children’s art in 1976 when he sees two Revel Cooper landscapes framing Ronald and Catherine Berndt’s study door at the University of Western Australia. He reads Child Artists of the Australian Bush by Mary Durack Miller and Florence Rutter, […]
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 […]
‘Healing is not just about recovering what we have lost or repairing what has been broken. It is about embracing our life force to create a new and vibrant fabric that keeps us grounded and connected, wraps us in warmth and love and gives us the joy of seeing what we have created.’
Here are some important words about healing in the Social Justice Report 2008, a document by the Australian Human Rights Commission. ‘Indigenous concepts of healing are based on addressing the relationship between the spiritual, emotional and physical in a holistic manner. An essential element of Indigenous healing is recognising the […]
Some of you will know that Judy Atkinson and her wonderful book Trauma Trails – Recreating Song Lines: The Transgenerational Effects of Trauma in Indigenous Australia inspired me to start working in the healing trauma field. Now, Judy has taken over my Friday mid-afternoons with her Fireside Yarns, organised […]
In our forthcoming book Connection: Aboriginal Child Artists Captivate Europe, I have written two appendices, one reflecting on The Trauma and the other on The Healing. In my last blog, I provided a section of the first Appendix, The Trauma: Reflections. Here, I include the first part of […]
The Carrolup Story project brings together kindred spirits who believe strongly in the healing power of Story. The project is based on the core values of authenticity, belonging, connection, courage, creativity, empathy, empowerment, safety and trust.
David Clark is an Emeritus Professor of Psychology who has spent the past twenty years developing initiatives that empower people to improve their social and emotional wellbeing. He developed Sharing Culture, an online educational resource to help Indigenous peoples heal from historical trauma and its consequences (e.g. addiction, mental health problems).
John Stanton, former Director of the Berndt Museum of Anthropology at the University of Western Australia (UWA), commenced the Carrolup Project in 1985 at the request of the Marribank Community, present-day Carrolup. He has worked in the cultural heritage sector with Aboriginal communities throughout the state and beyond since 1971, and is an Adjunct Professor at UWA.
Ash Whitney of Wired up Wales is an experienced web developer based in Wales (UK) specialising in WordPress development. Ash has 19 years web development experience and a client base that includes customers from small business, government, publishing, charity, community organisation, academic and health sectors.
The Berndt Museum at The University of Western Australia (UWA) holds one of the most significant collections of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural material in the world, manifesting in art, objects, archives, manuscripts, film and sound and photographic collections.
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