Another 10 drawings created by Australian First Nations Stolen Generations children have been added to The Herbert Mayer Collection of Carrolup Children’s Artwork, ahead of the tenth anniversary celebrations of its return to Noongar Country.
This year marks 10 years since the Collection of Carrolup Children’s Artwork returned to Western Australia and the John Curtin Gallery at Curtin University – under the guidance of the Carrolup Elders Reference Group – became the custodian.
As part of the anniversary celebrations, the John Curtin Gallery is exhibiting never-before-seen footage of the child artists creating their precious works in the 1940s, after they had been forcibly taken from their families and interned at the remote WA settlement of Carrolup.
Among the new works featured in the anniversary exhibition includes three drawings that were donated by Curtin Fine Arts graduate Priscilla Kelly, the granddaughter of Charles (Charlie) Cook who was the Carrolup school inspector in 1950.
John Curtin Gallery’s Carrolup Manager Kathleen Toomath, whose late mother Alma was the last-known surviving Carrolup artist, said each new work discovered uncovered a new page in our history.
“Every single work created by the children of Carrolup offers another window into their story and our history with every new connection taking us a step closer to healing and reconciling the past,” Ms Toomath said.
John Curtin Gallery Director Chris Malcolm said the striking and accomplished collection created by the children was bigger than ever for the anniversary celebrations.
“Another 10 works by Carrolup child artists have been discovered recently. This adds significantly to the Collection, taking the total number of Carrolup school pieces to more than 130, increasing our understanding of the hearts and minds of these resilient children during a deeply traumatic time in their lives,” Mr Malcolm said.
The children’s works had laid undiscovered in storage at Colgate University for 40 years before, and in a gesture of goodwill, they were returned to Noongar Boodja in 2013, completing a remarkable 63-year journey circumnavigating the globe.
Professor Ellen Kraly, from Colgate University, who is visiting Perth for the tenth anniversary celebrations, said she was delighted to see the children’s works continuing to inspire important discussions.
“The journey to enlighten the world with the significance of the stories of Carrolup is an inspiration, a ‘north star’ as the abolitionists would say, to be emulated far and wide. The children of Carrolup, and all who have followed them, continue to lead us on a journey to reflect on the past and pursue a positive path forward,” Professor Kraly said.
Some Carrolup artists became prolific, surprising the world with their ability to reveal a depth of understanding of their country – their Noongar Boodja.
An anniversary exhibition, Kalyagool Karni-Wangkiny [Telling Truth Always] – A Decade of Carrolup, runs from May 12 to July 9 at the John Curtin Gallery (Building 200A, Curtin University, Kent Street, Bentley, Western Australia). The Gallery is open Monday to Friday, 11am to 5pm, and Sundays, 12 noon to 4pm. This exhibition is made possible by BHP and Lotterywest.
For more information about the children’s artworks and the Carrolup Centre for Truth-telling, visit here.