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Lotterywest support paves reconciliation pathway for Nyungar artworks

Thursday 19 May 2022 | By Yasmine Phillips
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Curtin University’s new permanent home for historic artworks created by Nyungar children of the Stolen Generations has taken a major step forward with $1.76 million in Lotterywest funding from the State Government.

Visiting the treasured collection of artworks at the John Curtin Gallery today, Aboriginal Affairs Minister the Honourable Tony Buti made the significant announcement in the presence of the Carrolup Centre’s Founding Patron, the Honourable Kim Beazley AC, Governor of Western Australia – confirming Lotterywest’s position as an enabling partner of the Carrolup Centre for Truth-telling.

Minister Buti said: “The Carrolup Centre for Truth-telling will be a space for change, with the Centre’s ultimate goal of reconciliation. Genuine reconciliation requires the WA community to recognise and respect Aboriginal people, acknowledge past injustices and ongoing inequalities, and commit to working toward a more equitable future. Congratulations to Curtin University on securing this grant that will contribute to the development of the Carrolup Truth-telling Centre for all West Australians to enjoy.”

Governor Beazley said: “We are learning the richness and resilience of the culture we damaged so severely as we moved onto this land 200 years ago. Nothing better illustrates that resilience than the artwork of the stolen children of Carrolup. Funding a permanent home for it is an essential aid for the truth telling needed for healing.”

The Herbert Mayer Collection of Carrolup Artworks is a unique and remarkable body of 122 artworks, created by Nyungar children of the Stolen Generations who were detained at the remote Carrolup Native Settlement in the 1940s.

After an incredible 65-year journey circumnavigating the world including a 40-year hiatus in the US, where the works lay undiscovered in storage, Colgate University in New York granted Curtin University’s John Curtin Gallery custodianship of the Collection in 2013, where they are cared for under the guidance of the Carrolup Elders Reference Group.

John Curtin Gallery Director Chris Malcolm thanked the State Government for the significant support, adding it was a major step forward for the culturally significant project.

“The Carrolup Centre for Truth-telling will shine a light on the injustices of our past and examine their consequences across generations so we can build a fairer and more inclusive future together,” Mr Malcolm said.

“This support from the State Government through Lotterywest will enable us to create a portal for the Centre in the CBD at Curtin 139 St Georges Terrace, curate new exhibitions each year, work with Elders to deliver a truth-telling and healing program and roll out an education program for school children.”

Carrolup Elders Reference Group Chair Tony Hansen said the State Government support from Lotterywest would help drive truth-telling, engagement and education programs.

“Under the leadership of Elders, this funding will support the development and delivery of transgenerational healing and truth-telling programs in a culturally safe space for First Nations’ people, especially the most disadvantaged – the Stolen Generations survivors, their families and communities,” Mr Hansen said.

“School children from years 5 to 12 will also be able to gain a greater understanding and awareness

of our shared history, First Nations’ culture and heritage, and the impacts of 200 years of settlement colonisation within WA. This program will offer excursion opportunities and supplementary educational collateral for use within classrooms. These steps will form an important part of WA’s reconciliation journey, recognising the cultural and historical significance of these precious artworks.”

The University plans to open a new physical home for the artworks, as well as associated education and community engagement programs, on the Bentley campus, on the ground floor of the John Curtin Gallery.

For more information about the Carrolup Centre for Truth-telling, visit here.