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Message Stick – Child Artists of Carrolup (2003)


During the 1950s children from Carrolup mission in Western Australia, south of Perth, became artists under the instruction of Mr White, but after leaving the mission many of them never painted again.

Curator’s notes

The child artists of Carrolup during the 1950s were encouraged by Noel White to develop their skills as artists. The reality was that Aboriginal half-castes during this era were being prepared for servitude in accordance with government policies and, eventually, Noel White ran foul of the Native Affairs Department because he was offering his charges something different to this. This episode provides another perspective on the child removal policies and how the government of the day had specific designs on how half-caste children would occupy a place in society. As a consequence of upsetting the social order, White suffered constant interference in how he ran his school. This interference would see many of the child artists of Carrolup never paint again, with most of their artworks lost.