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Search begins for precious Australian children’s artworks in the UK

PERTH, Australia

Households across the United Kingdom are urged to be on the lookout for hundreds of precious artworks created by Australian First Nations children who were forcibly taken from their families in the 1940s.

A selection of the treasured collection created by Aboriginal children interned at the remote Western Australian settlement of Carrolup will be showcased at The Portico Library in Manchester until September 26 and the University of Glasgow Memorial Chapel from October 5 to November 11.

It is the first time the artworks have returned to the UK in 70 years – after London Soroptimist Club Founding President Florence Rutter met the artists and arranged exhibitions across London, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Glasgow during the 1950s. Proceeds from artwork sales were used to purchase more drawing materials for the children at Carrolup.

The drawings set off on an incredible 65-year journey circumnavigating the world, including a 40-year hiatus in the US, where the works lay undiscovered in storage at Colgate University in New York.

John Curtin Gallery Director Chris Malcolm is calling on the broader UK community to help find any other missing works created by the children of Carrolup in the 1940s.

“We are encouraging people across the UK to help our global search for these culturally significant drawings by checking their attics, cupboards and households for any similar artworks,” Mr Malcolm said.

“The key clues that people need to be looking out for include the use of chalk on paper and many depict the Australian landscape and wildlife, including kangaroos. We would urge everyone to see for themselves at the two exhibitions in Manchester and Glasgow.”

Since 2013, John Curtin Gallery at Australia’s Curtin University – with Indigenous Elders – has been the custodian of The Herbert Mayer Collection of Carrolup Children’s Art.

Anyone who thinks they may have found one of the artworks can contact us here.

Presented by the John Curtin Gallery as part of the UK/Australia Season 2021-22 and supported by the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries and BHP with guidance from Indigenous Elder Ezzard Flowers, ‘Tracing the art of a Stolen Generation: the child artists of Carrolup’ is curated by Australian First Nations Art Curator Michelle Broun and Adjunct Curator Helen Idle.

SOURCE: Curtin University of Technology

Source: Curtin University of Technology