CONNECTION & PUBLIC ACCLAIM
In an exhibition of 450 drawings at a major department store in Perth, four of the boys, aged between ten and twelve years old, show their skills and over £120
($8,000 in today's terms) is raised from sales of their art and donations.
When teacher Noel White arrives at Carrolup in May 1946, he is unable to communicate with the Aboriginal children. They sit sullenly and silently at their schoolroom desks.
'The first week at school with our new teacher we were all scared stiff. I think if it wasn’t for the ever present smile of Mr Whites we would have all stormed out of the school and ran for our lives.' Revel Cooper, 1960
Mr. White eventually connects with the children, through an education and personal development programme he develops with the help of School Inspector Charles 'Sammy' Crabbe. The programme involves drawing, singing, dancing, drama and story-telling, as well as Mr. White's natural empathy and inspiration.
Mr. White takes the children on regular bush rambles, encouraging them to 'truly observe' what they see and draw it in the classroom the next day. He has never drawn or painted.
The children lose their fear and gain confidence, and their schoolwork improves dramatically. The boys’ drawings, initially done in crayon or chalk, keep improving. Mr. White and his wife Lily, who is now a teacher at the school, do not fully appreciate how far the children have developed their skills, until Sammy Crabbe points out that the drawings have become 'something quite remarkable.'
'The Creek' by Simpson Kelly, a pastel on paper, 18.5 x 24 cm, 1948. Noel & Lily White Collection held at the Berndt Museum of Anthropology, The University of Western Australia.
In 1947, the children’s drawings attract public attention locally at the Katanning Show, and further afield in Perth.
Three children (Reynold Hart, Dulcie Penny and Vera Wallam) have their articles accepted in the Lord Forrest Centenary Booklet - in competition with other children from all over the state - whilst Parnell Dempster has a drawing accepted. Only one other school has more submissions accepted than Carrolup School. Vera and Parnell win two of the ten one guinea prizes that are offered.
The children’s drawings shown in the Lord Forrest Centennial Exhibition are seen by thousands, and attract the attention of the press. Max Praed acclaims the art and the Whites’ education programme in a Sunday Times newspaper article.
In an exhibition of 450 Carrolup drawings at a major department store in Perth, four of the boys, aged between ten and twelve years old, show their skills and over £120 ($8,000 in today's terms) is raised from sales of their art and donations.
In 1948, doubters at a teacher’s conference held in Albany are silenced by a stunning display of drawing given by three of the boys, Parnell Dempster, Reynold Hart and Barry Loo.
Exhibition at Boans department store, The West Australian newspaper, 23rd October, 1947.
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