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.

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 drawing accepted. Only one other school in Western Australia has more submissions accepted than Carrolup Native Settlement School. Vera and Parnell win two of the ten one guinea prizes that are offered.

The children’s drawings shown in the Lord Forrest Centennial Exhibition are seen by thousands, and attract the attention of the press. Max Praed acclaims the art and the Whites’ education programme in a Sunday Times newspaper article. Thomas Sten, Principal of the Teachers’ College at Claremont, asks if he can display some of the children’s art on the walls of his college.

In an exhibition of 450 Carrolup drawings at a major department store in Perth, four of the boys (Parnell Dempster, Reynold Hart, Claude Kelly and Barry Loo) aged between ten and twelve years old, show their skills and over £120 ($8,000 in today’s terms) is raised from sales of their art and donations. The state’s Lieutenant-Governor, Sir James Mitchell, who opens the exhibition, says:

‘If what they had seen was a specimen of the progress of these native children, who had been at school only two years, he predicted exceptional results in the future.’ Sir James Mitchell, 1947

In 1948, doubters at a teachers’ conference held in Albany are silenced by a stunning display of drawing given by three of the boys, Parnell Dempster, Reynold Hart and Barry Loo. All 96 artworks exhibited soon sell, raising £24 (worth $1,450 today) for the school.

Pertinent blog posts:

Carrolup Children at Katanning Show, 1946: The children attend the Katanning Show for the first time and attract  attention there and in the local media—’the the imaginative drawing being particularly distinctive.’

‘Aboriginal Children Show Amazing Skill in Art’: Max Praed: An article appears in the Sunday Times Supplement that highlights both the artworks and educational programme at Carrolup.

Boans Exhibition of Carrolup Drawings: The Carrolup children have their own exhibition at Boans department store in 1947 and four of the boys demonstrate their drawing skills twice a day on each of the four days.

Boans Exhibition of Carrolup Drawings, Part 2: The organiser of the exhibition, Mr John Stokes, said the exhibition ‘was one of the most significant seen in Perth in many years’; other press reports, and sales and donations, are good.

Silencing the Doubters: Teachers at a conference in Albany in 1948 claim to Noel White that the children’s art is ‘too good to be true’, but minds are changed after three of the boys demonstrate their drawing skills

Carrolup Art at the Katanning Show, 1948: The children’s artworks, which include watercolours for the first time and beautifully stained trays, once again attract considerable attention at the local Show



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