Curated in collaboration with Edith De Giambattista and Noelene White
12 February – 22 March 2015
John Curtin Gallery
On a bitterly cold, windy day in late May 1946, twelve year old Noelene White arrived at the Carrolup Native Settlement after a two day journey from the tiny railway siding of Narngulu, east of Geraldton. The long trip south to the mysterious ‘Carrolup’ was quite the adventure for Noelene and her two younger siblings – arriving with their parents under a grey sky, wide-eyed with little understanding of their destination. Her father, Noel White, with her mother Lily, had decided to relocate their family south to Carrolup, heeding the impassioned plea of former Carrolup teacher Coral Elliot in December 1945…this proved to be a momentous decision…
One day in November 1948 a large open backed truck pulled up without warning at the Kojonup farm where twelve year-old Edith Smith (De Giambattista) was living with her extended family. Strangers emerged from this unfamiliar vehicle and in spite of the protests of her outraged grandfather, the frightened Edith was abruptly lifted up onto the back of the truck and driven eastwards to the Carrolup Native Settlement without any explanation whatsoever. She would remain there, against her will, until January 1950…
65 years later these two remarkable women have come together to reflect upon their contrasting experiences of this place during this same period in the late 1940s.
The Herbert Mayer Collection of Carrolup Artwork was generously donated back to Noongar Country by Colgate University in 2013. It was a momentous occasion, which rekindled Noelene and Edith’s friendship.
Through Noelene and Edith’s mutual respect and many shared memories, their selection of artworks enables us to appreciate just how significant the astonishing period of unbridled creativity was between 1946 and 1950, when Noel and Lily White were teaching at the Carrolup School, providing the spark that ignited the beacon we now know generations later as Carrolup art.
We are proud to continue to share this important legacy.
Edith De Giambattista recalling former Carrolup Native Settlement child residents and school friends in front of the memorial
Attributed to Keith Indich, The Colours of the Setting Sun c1949, Pastel and graphite on paper, 289mm x 449mm
Edith De Giambattista and Noelene White inside the former Carrolup Native Settlement School
The children of Carrolup in their classroom with Noel and Lily White and visitors from Katanning c1948.