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 create beautiful landscape drawings that gain international acclaim and challenge a government’s racist policies.
'Welcome to The Carrolup Story. In developing this unique resource, we aim that many more 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 fellows, and more protective of our planet.' David Clark, Emeritus Professor of Psychology, and John Stanton, Adjunct Professor and former Director of the Berndt Museum of Anthropology.
‘There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way it treats its children.’
In an earlier blog, I described the early public acclaim the children of Carrolup received for their drawings and other work. John P Stokes, who had been editor of the Lord Forrest Centenary Booklet, in which five of the Carrolup children had their work included, asked the Department […]
Several weeks ago while I was sorting through Noelene White’s family memorabilia relating to Carrolup, I came across a photograph I’d only ever seen in an ABC film about Carrolup. I’d been trying to find a copy of this photograph for ages. The photograph is the one above, […]
Firstly, my apology for not posting any blogs recently, but I have been busy trying to finish writing the book about the Carrolup child artists. Very close to finishing that now, so I’m back blogging. In my last blogs, I focused on Mrs Florence Rutter’s visits to Carrolup […]
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.’ […]
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, and […]
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 thoughtful words in difficult times from a beautiful group of Aboriginal people, We Al-li Healing Programs. Please read this blog, the words might make you feel better and help you move forward in a positive way. When I saw We Al-li’s Facebook page, I contacted Carlie […]
I’m reading a fascinating book at the moment, written by Maia Szalavitz and Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D., titled Born for Love: why empathy is essential—and endangered. Possessing empathy is a key attribute for people who are trying to help others heal or recover from trauma and its consequences, […]
In my last blog posting, I wrote about ‘Bringing them home’, the report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families. This report tells the stories of many of the so-called Stolen Generations. I also provided a link to […]
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.
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.
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).
Please do not hesitate to contact us with any enquiries
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