Global art search

Barry Loo (back row, second left) with other young Carrolup artists. Photo from the Mary Durack Miller Collection in the Battye Library.

A GLOBAL search is underway for hundreds of missing artworks created by Noongar kids who were members of the Stolen Generation. 

Back in the 1940s at the Carrolup Native Settlement teachers Noel and Lily White used art to build a connection with the Noongar children who’d been forcibly taken from their families. Many would go on to become prolific artists, recognised for their ability to depict a deep understanding of their land.


In 1949 London Soroptimist Club president Florence Rutter visited Carrolup and was so impressed with the work she arranged for them to be exhibited across London, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Glasgow. 

Funds from sales bought more drawing materials for the kids back at Carrolup.

Today the works are scattered across the globe. Recently some were found in storage at Colgate Universtiy in New York, where they’d sat for some 40 years.

John Curtin Gallery has been the custodian of a portion of the works, the Herbert Mayer Collection of Carrolup Artwork, but there are many missing pieces still out there.

JCG director Chris Malcolm is urging people to check attics, cupboards and drawers for paintings that resemble the chalk works.

“While hundreds of artworks that were created by the children of Carrolup in the 1940s were taken overseas, only some have been recovered and returned home to Noongar country,” Mr Malcolm said in a media statement.

“We are hoping these two new exhibitions in Manchester and Glasgow will help uncover more of these precious artworks that made their way to the UK during the various exhibitions organised by Mrs Rutter in the 1950s.

“A critical part of our reconciliation process of addressing the wrongs of the past includes uncovering these priceless artworks as they could be the only physical connection a family has with their ancestors.

“The artworks form a basis from which we can deepen our knowledge and understanding of our past, and help us walk together towards a better future.”

Anyone with a lead on Carrolup artwork is asked to contact John Curtin Gallery. 

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