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.’
Last month, I wrote about receiving communications from Charon and Judy Ryder, daughters of the Carrolup child artist Cliff Ryder. I then described the meeting that John and I had with Charon and her husband John Kalin, along with their four-year old grandson Treyje. Last Saturday, John and I spent a […]
Too often, adults in many societies tend to view ‘children’ as ‘immature’, naïve’ or ‘child-like’. The Carrolup children’s drawings demonstrate an entirely different side to what it is to be a ‘child’. For not only were they part of the Stolen Generation, taken away from their parents, and […]
Mrs Florence Rutter, a 71-year old Englishwoman, visited Carrolup twice—in July 1949 and January/February 1950. She returned to England soon after her second visit, having received permission from the West Australian government to exhibit and sell the Carrolup children’s artworks (mainly the boys’ drawings). A Trust Fund had […]
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.’
I was looking through one of my other websites, Recovery Stories, yesterday. I came across a blog I posted in 2014 about an article on recovery from mental health problems by Mark Ragins. That blog is as pertinent today, so here it is: Mark is a leading recovery figure […]
Last month, I blogged about the exciting Native American storytelling project by Native Hope: We believe in the power of storytelling to dismantle barriers, bring healing, and inspire hope for Native people. Here is a section from one of their articles, The Science Behind the Healing Power of […]
I often wonder about the consequences of the government policy of taking Aboriginal children away from their families, the impact on the children and the parents. Children taken away in this way were not only losing the essential care of their parents, but also disconnecting the child from […]
The Carrolup Story project brings together four 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).
Simon Akkerman ACS is an award-winning Cinematographer with a career spanning over 40 years. His extensive résumé covers nearly every corner of the globe, and his wide range of skills allow him to effectively relate on screen a wide and varying depiction of cultures, social backgrounds and art genres.
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.
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