Florence

Mrs Rutter with Prince Rudy Dinah and a group of Carrolup girls. The girl second from the left is Mildred Jones. Photographer: Noel White, 31st July 1949. Noel & Lily White Collection.

Mrs Rutter with Prince Rudy Dinah and a group of Carrolup girls. The girl second from the left is Mildred Jones. Photographer: Noel White, 31st July 1949. Noel & Lily White Collection.

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 that Mrs Rutter can exhibit and sell the children’s art in Europe, with all money to be used to support the children’s art activities.

Mrs Rutter and her friend Mrs Vera Hack visit Carrolup for just over a day at the end of January 1950, soon after the Department of Native Affairs has moved the girls away to missions. The two women receive a rousing welcome from the boys. Mrs Rutter is amazed by the strong values of the boys and their exemplary behaviour.

‘In every way they were exemplary – attentive, interested, appreciative, grateful, polite, unselfish, sporting and physically courageous. I hope that my own grandchildren will develop these traits as definitely as these little aboriginal boys…’ Mrs Florence Rutter, 1950

Mrs Rutter is deeply saddened by the squalid conditions in which the children live, and aims to highlight these conditions to the outside world, whilst helping the boys help themselves by earning money from their beautiful art.

Four unidentified Carrolup boys with their pastel drawing books. Photographer: Vera Hack, January 1950. Noel & Lily White Collection.

Four unidentified Carrolup boys with their pastel drawing books. Photographer: Vera Hack, January 1950. Noel & Lily White Collection.

Before leaving Carrolup armed with more artworks to exhibit and sell, Mrs Rutter presents Parnell Dempster with a set of oil paints and he creates what is thought to be the first oil painting done by an Australian Aboriginal.

Pertinent blog posts:

Carrolup and Florence Rutter, Part 1: Seventy-year old Englishwoman Florence Rutter sees an article about the children’s art whilst in Perth; she heads to Carrolup and meets the Whites, Parnell Dempster and Reynold Hart.

Carrolup and Florence Rutter, Part 2: Mrs Rutter starts a tour of Australia and New Zealand to see and set up Soroptomist clubs; she exhibits the £5 worth of drawings and designs she had purchased whilst visiting Carrolup.

Carrolup and Florence Rutter, Part 3: Mrs Rutter visits eighth cities in Australasia and New Zealand, continuing her Soroptomy work, exhibiting the Carrolup artworks (and taking orders), and attracting much media attention.

Carrolup and Florence Rutter, Part 4: At a roundtable conference held in Perth, which includes the Commissioner of Native Affairs Mr Stanley Middleton, it is agreed that Mrs Rutter will exhibit and sell Carrolup artworks in Europe.

70th Anniversary: A Special Visit: On 31st January 1950, Mrs Florence Rutter and her friend Vera Hack arrived for their two and a half day visit of Carrolup Native Settlement. This visit triggered many important events.

70th Anniversary: A Promise: At the end of her visit, Mrs Rutter promises the boys of Carrolup to do all in her power to make their work known throughout the world. The boys cheer her lustily.

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