Appeldoorn Exhibition of Carrolup Art

Letter from Margaret Edenburg (née Rutter) to Mr and Mrs White, 25th June 1950.

Letter from Margaret Edenburg (née Rutter) to Mr and Mrs White, 25th June 1950. Noel & Lily White Collection.

I was really pleased to find a message on one of my Facebook posts from Ange Edenburg, a great-granddaughter of Mrs Florence Rutter. Ange, who lives in Bridgetown, and I have been communicating since then.

Ange’s grandmother Margaret Edenburg was one of Florence’s daughters. Margaret and her family moved to Perth in the first half of the 1950s. Ange is the daughter of Margaret’s son Martin. Coincidentally, Ange’s Mum lives just a few kilometres from me here in Perth. Another of those Carrolup coincidences!

First page of a notebook sent by Florence Rutter to Noel & Lily White in 1950, which includes letters of appreciation and comments about the Carrolup children’s art.

I’m looking forward to meeting Ange and her Mum and I know John feels the same. I’m putting together a collection of Florence-related material for them. Meanwhile, I thought I’d write a blog post about the Appeldoorn exhibition of Carrolup art, which includes a letter written by Ange’s grandmother Margaret Edenburg. Here goes.

The Carrolup children’s art was first exhibited in Europe at the Art Gallery in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands, when Mrs Florence Rutter was visiting her daughter Margaret Edenburg and her family in June 1950. 

Mrs Rutter later sent the Whites a copy of a notebook in which people wrote letters or comments about the children’s art. Mrs Rutter also transcribed names and comments from the Visitor’s books of some of her later exhibitions in England. In the notebook, which is now in the possession of Noel and Lily White’s daughter Noelene, Mrs Rutter wrote:

‘A collection of letters of appreciation for the wonderful work you are doing with Aboriginal children of Carrolup Settlement. Collected by Florence Rutter, 32 Woodside Avenue, London N12, England.’

Here is the letter that Florence’s daughter Margaret wrote to the Whites (click on image at top to see full copy of the original letter):

‘Dear Mr and Mrs White,

To say that we were amazed by the wonderful work of the boys and girls would be an understatement – the pictures are incredibly lovely and leave one quite speechless. 

We are very proud and happy to have three examples of your pupils’ art now framed and hanging in our house, and we consider that the work is a great credit to you both. 

We have heard with the greatest interest the story Mother told of how she discovered you and your large “family” at Carrolup, and it seems to us little short of a miracle that the children can produce such work under difficult conditions, not least being the great heat and the swarming flies troubling them at their task.

The pictures are so clear, with no erasions or smudges, and the colours and contours so clear that it is obvious all the children are born artists, or else guided by some mysterious inspiration beyond our comprehension. Children of the so-called “White” and “civilised” world could never compete with such artistry, and it reflects real glory on you both that through your patience and love for these native children their efforts produce such wonderful results.

We feel really pleased that Mother decided to make your work known over here, and you may be sure that she is making it her life’s interest now to do all she can to further the cause of your children’s work and to bring them the success they deserve.

All our thoughts and best wishes go out to you from this side of the world, and it is our earnest hope that God’s blessing will be with you always and that you may be spared to carry on your noble work for many, many years to come.

Yours very sincerely,’ Mrs Margaret U Edenburg (née Rutter), Apeldoorn, 25th June 1950

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