I’d first like to wish readers a Merry Christmas, a restful vacation, and all the very best for 2023.
John Stanton and I continue to work on our Carrolup project and post content to The Carrolup Story website. We continue to spread the word about the awesome Aboriginal child artists of Carrolup and their achievements, connect family members of these children to the story, and inform people about trauma and the healing of trauma. There have been some special highlights for us during the year which you can read about in the blog posts that are linked to below.
We cherish the close friendship we have with the family of one of the renowned Carrolup child artists, Cliff Ryder, In particular with his eldest daughter Charon and her husband John Kalin. You can read about this relationship in this blog post, which also contains links to our other related posts.
The highlight of this beautiful relationship occurred on 6 August when Ellen Spalding flew over from Melbourne and presented Charon with a drawing done by her father at Cliff’s grave in Goomalling Cemetery. Ellen’s father Ian Spalding had been given a pastel drawing done by Cliff when he visited Marribank (formerly Carrolup Native Settlement) in the late 1950s. The drawing had remained in Ellen’s family all this time. She contacted me when she saw our website and asked if I could put her in touch with Cliff’s family. Our blog post also contains film of the deeply moving presentation of the drawing.
A further highlight for both us was our annual visit to Perth’s maximum security prison for males, Casuarina Prison. We both gave talks about Carrolup, showed films related to the story, and engaged in general discussion. I also gave two talks on trauma, resilience and healing, primarily based on the work of world leading trauma expert Bruce Perry and his colleagues. In addition, we visited the art classes, which are always very enjoyable.
In mid-February, John and I visited Kojonup, the town closest to Carrolup, to learn more of what was going on in the town, and engage in various discussions with key community members that focused on what an Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) approach could do to enhance the social and emotional wellbeing of the community, with an emphasis placed on empowering and connecting youth. This visit, organised by Lisa Martello-Hart (Australiana Artist and Children’s Book Author), has inspired an exciting project based on an ABCD approach in the Kojonup community, facilitated by Lisa.
A highlight for John was the opening of a new gallery in Balingup, curated by Wadandi-Pibulmun Elder and Stolen Generations survivor, artist Sandra Hill, with the support of family and friends. The exhibition, which presents a timeline of Aboriginal history across the South-West, comprises didactic panels, artefacts and artworks that forcefully convey through truth-telling the complex experiences of Noongar peoples during the successive periods of pre-colonial, colonial, assimilationist and contemporary life.
On the 9 of November, we celebrated our fourth birthday. Our ‘celebratory’ blog post links to the six blogs we posted on the 9th of November 2018.
One of my favourite blog posts was John’s On Being a Social Anthropologist. It makes for fascinating reading. This post was written at the beginning of the year, after John had given a talk to the Rotary Club in Kojonup in October 2021, following an invited by Alan (‘Bear’) Warburton. PS. There’s some great photos in this blog post!
One sad piece of news was the book I wrote and submitted to Fremantle Press, Carrolup: A true story of Aboriginal child artists challenging a government’s racist policies, was rejected for publication. It’s a strange decision, given that this is one of the most important Noongar stories since colonisation and a major story in Western Australian history. I am very proud of the quality of the book, and of the many favourable responses I have received about it. I will start approaching international publishers in the new year, to see if I can attract interest.
Please don’t forget, if you want to buy yourself a late special Christmas present, you can purchase our eBook, Aboriginal Child Artists Captivate Europe, which can be read on computers, phones or other hand-held devices, for just A$9.99. The book uses uses ‘faces’ and ‘voices’ of the past, providing access to a wealth of photographs, pictures of the children’s art and schoolwork, letters, documents and media clippings, that help bring the story ‘alive’.
Here are the remaining 2022 blog posts from the Story section of our website.
I’ll focus on other forms of content on our website in my next blog, Part 2 of A Year of The Carrolup Story (2022).