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.

Available now as a downloadable eBook

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

More about the book

‘There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way it treats its children.’

Nelson Mandela

Children at Carrolup, early 1940s

Latest Blogs

10/05/2021
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]

Development of the Carrolup Children’s Art

In a previous blog, I described how the children’s art was initially just one aspect of a school curriculum that used drawing as the necessary means of communication in almost every subject. Early in 1947, Noel introduced a scheme where he and his wife spent time with the children five […]
03/05/2021

‘What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing’

This weekend I read one of the best books I have ever read, certainly in one of the areas in which I work. The book, What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing, is written by Bruce D. Perry M.D., Ph.D. and Oprah Winfrey. The book is […]
28/04/2021

‘Drawing as the Necessary Means of Communication’

In a previous blog, I have described part of the role played by School Inspector Charles ‘Sammy’ Crabbe in the development of the Carrolup children’s drawings and their schoolwork. I have also summarised the pivotal role that teacher Noel White played in connecting with the traumatised Aboriginal children, […]
Parnell Dempster with his pastel drawing book. Photographer: Vera Hack, January 1950. Noel & Lily White Collection.

‘Stories help us develop empathy. They allow us to understand another person’s world from their perspective.’

Lewis Mehl-Madrona

Story

09/11/2018
Aboriginal prisoners in neck chains at Wyndham, Northern Western Australia. State Library of Victoria.

Colonisation

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 […]
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
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 has a […]
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

Search

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, […]
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 […]

‘Land is a story place. Land holds the stories of human survival across the generations. Land shapes people, just as people shape their countries.’

Judy Atkinson

Leaning tree by Milton Jackson, pastel on paper, 41 x 33cm, c.1949. Noel & Lily White Collection, Berndt Museum of Anthropology. [WU7568]
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]

‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’

Margaret Mead

‘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.’

Helen Milroy

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.

Healing

04/05/2021

On Trauma and Healing: Quotes from Bruce Perry and Oprah Winfrey’s New Book

In yesterday’s Story Blog post, I talked about one of the best books I have read, particularly in the area in which I work. What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing by Bruce D. Perry MD, PhD and Oprah Winfrey is informative, inspiring and deeply-moving. In […]
26/04/2021

‘Addiction is a Medical Disorder’ No Way!

In a recent Healing blog post, I described how I spent the first 25 years of my career as a neuroscientist studying brain function. After working in Sweden and the USA, I returned to the UK to set up my own neuroscience laboratory in the Department of Psychology, […]
20/04/2021

The Importance Of Grounding

Last week, I was feeling rather overwhelmed with my work and some of the other things going on in my mind. I shouldn’t have felt overwhelmed with work, as I am officially ‘retired’ and don’t need to be doing what I do. But I was… and I do, […]

About us

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.

More about us


David Clark
John Stanton
Ash Whitney
Berndt Museum

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any enquiries

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