Skip to content
Curtin University of Technology
John Curtin Gallery

2016: Exhibitions and Events


Bella Kelly, Untitled (Sleeping Lady),1988, watercolour and gouache on paper, 36.2 x 49.2cm

Bella Kelly Retrospective
20 June - 21 August, 2016

The Bella Kelly Retrospective is an exhibition of paintings by the renowned Noongar artist Bella Kelly (1915-1994) including three from the City of Albany Collection as well as approximately 40 others borrowed from private and public collections.

The Bella Kelly Retrospective will build on the research undertaken for the Ripples in the Pond exhibition presented by Vancouver Arts Centre in 2014, which was developed to support the Great Southern Regional Tour of Koolark Koort Koorliny (Heart Coming Home); selected works from the Herbert Mayer Collection of Carrolup Artwork presented by John Curtin Gallery.

Through the Ripples in the Pond exhibition, Bella Kelly’s place in Noongar art history was re-evaluated. Bella Kelly had been previously described as being influenced by the Carrolup Style, whereas the research suggested that she may have been an important early influence on the Carrolup child artists.

Curated by Annette Davis

Developed with assistance from Department of Culture and the Arts: Connect Community Collections Grant.


Please join us for a very special Public Program event as part of the Bella Kelly Retrospective exhibition

Memories of Bella
The Life and Art of Bella Kelly

Wednesday 13 July 2016, 12:30 – 1:30pm

Join host Marion Kickett, Director Centre for Aboriginal Studies, in conversation with Bella’s daughters Cheryl and Caroline Narkle, Bella Kelly collector and author Tony Davis and Curator of the Bella Kelly Retrospective, Annette Davis as they share their memories and anecdotes of revered artist Bella Kelly, from her early years and practice to her influence on contemporary Noongar art.

1:30 – 2:30pm
Curator Annette Davis, from the Vancouver Arts Centre, Albany, will lead an exclusive gallery tour and discuss the Bella Kelly Retrospective exhibition, the works in show and the stories behind them as well as Bella’s significance in terms of the distinctive Carrolup style.

1:30pm Onwards - Interactive Cultural Discovery Sessions in the Atrium

- The Oral Histories of Carrolup Project team will be available to record personal stories about Carrolup and the child artists.

- Explore family histories through the State Library’s Storylines database which will be accessible in the Gallery Atrium.

- The UWA and Curtin Noongarpedia team will run a ‘wikibomb’ session. Join in and learn how to create articles and edits honouring Noongar katitjin and waangkiny on the first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wikipedia site.

- South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council Research staff will be present to provide family trees or family history information to Noongar community members.

The formal transfer of custodianship of the Department of Aboriginal Affair’s Collection of Carrolup artworks, letters, photographs and artifacts to Curtin University.

Wednesday 17 February, 2016, 10.15am – 11.30am
To be held at the Centre for Aboriginal Studies, Curtin University

RSVP by 15 February to or phone 9266 4155.

The Herbert Mayer Collection of Carrolup Artwork was generously donated to Curtin University in May 2013 for educational and research purposes by Colgate University, New York, USA. The Carrolup artworks were created by Aboriginal children of the Stolen Generation at the Carrolup Native Settlement School between 1946-1950.

In 2015 a number of significant items were identified at the Department of Aboriginal Affairs (DAA) that are directly connected to The Herbert Mayer Collection of Carrolup Artwork.

Recognising the importance of housing the collection in one location, the DAA has generously offered to transfer custodianship, but retain ownership, of the precious artworks, letters, photographs and artifacts in their care, to Curtin University.

These artworks are profoundly important historical and cultural artifacts from the Stolen Generations. They shine like a beacon of hope from this dark period in our history.

As custodians of the collection, Curtin is committed to sharing, researching and preserving the collection for future generations.

The Department of Aboriginal Affairs Collection of Carrolup Material being transferred to Curtin University includes:

Artwork c.1947-1950 including one double sided pastel drawing by Edie Wallam featuring grass trees; and three double sided anonymous pastel drawings of landscapes and abstracted shapes.

A series of letters to Florence Rutter by Parnell Dempster, Barry Loo, Reynold Hart, Cliff Ryder, Gordon Willock and Mr Noel White.

An original copy of the Little Black Fingers book by Florence Rutter.

Five black and white photographs, c1950, of various sizes and subject matter.

Articles and extracts The Illustrated London News- Aboriginal Art: Notable Work by Children; The Times Educational Supplement; the Sunday Times; The Times Educational Supplement; and Teachers World & School Mistress.

And varied materials including the pastel book dust sheet tissue and an exhibitors ticket to The Royal Pastel Society to admit Mrs Florene Rutter.