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New Yorkers get a taste of Noongar culture

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New Yorkers get a taste of Noongar culture


1 July 2008

Sixteen students from New York have come thousands of miles to Katanning in Western Australia to learn more about Noongar culture after paintings by Stolen Generation children from Carrolup Mission were found at their university art gallery in 2004.

Colgate University, a leading arts university in New York state, has developed a friendship with the Noongar people in Katanning after the paintings were found in a store room at the University’s Picker Art Gallery in 2004.

The paintings were donated to the University in 1966 by alumnus Herbert Mayer, a major art collector and dealer, after he acquired them in London from Florence Rutter, a patron of the Carrolup child artists. Ms Rutter then used money from the sales to buy supplies for the mission.

Professor Ellen Kraly of Colgate University has visited Katanning four times since 2004 to develop the relationship with the Noongar people there.  This has allowed the University to provide educational opportunities to Noongar youth in Katanning as well as access to the newly discovered paintings.

Noongar art and history is being fully embraced at Colgate University with annual field trips to Western Australia being undertaken as well as students completing major research projects on Noongar art.  The University also hosted two young women from Katanning as well as artists and leaders from the community in 2007, and the Mungart Boodja Art Centre in Katanning has hosted a practicum student from Colgate.

WA’s Curtin University has a long standing commitment to Indigenous education and hosted the 16 visiting Colgate students for two days while they were in Western Australia.  While at Curtin the students took part in a wide range of activities including lectures on Aboriginal health, sport and art, and the opportunity to make traditional ropes with guests from the Department of Conversation and Land Management.

After visiting Curtin the students from Colgate University spent a week in Katanning participating in hands-on lessons about Noongar culture, as well as assisting with projects in the community.

Curtin Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jeanette Hacket, said it is important for the University to build more links between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people so that information can be shared, creating a better understanding of Indigenous issues.

“Curtin is a leader in Indigenous education through its Centre for Aboriginal Studies (CAS) and inclusion of Indigenous people in its main stream studies,” she said.

“It is important to share the knowledge we have with others.

“We are delighted students from Colgate University were able to visit Curtin and learn from staff at CAS and our National Drug Research Institute.

“We look forward to building stronger links with both Colgate University and the Mungart Boodja Art Centre to continue to share learning about Aboriginal culture.”

Ezzard Flower, Chairman of the Mungart Boodja Art Centre, believes there are enormous opportunities to promote Noongar culture and art to a wider audience through the relationships with the two universities.

“We are proud to have an international audience for our history, art and culture and value the link that has been formed with Colgate University,” he said.

“Curtin has provided excellent support for this program and at a community level we recognise the University’s success in reaching out to and working with Aboriginal people.

“We hope that students from Colgate University continue to come to Western Australian to learn more about our culture, with Curtin as a key educational partner.”

Students from Curtin Volunteers! will be contributing to art projects at the Mungart Boodja Art Centre in Katanning to further develop linkages with both the Katanning community and Colgate University.

Modified: 1 July 2008

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