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Curtin University of Technology
John Curtin Gallery

Sharing the Collection


Curtin University is Western Australia’s largest and most multicultural university with the highest enrolment of Aboriginal students of any Australian university. Curtin was the first university in Australia to sign a Statement of Reconciliation and has a longstanding commitment to Aboriginal education and culture through its Centre for Aboriginal Studies, established in 1983. Expanding on this commitment, Curtin has established the Carrolup Elder’s Reference Group, comprising representatives from the Noongar community including many of the families associated with the artworks in this Collection. This Reference Group meets regularly to advise Curtin on all aspects of future development, education and research involving The Herbert Mayer Collection of Carrolup Artwork.

As custodians of this Collection, Curtin University’s commitment through its agreement with Colgate University is built upon two key principles – preservation and access: preserving the artworks for future generations; and providing access to the Collection for all, but in particular, all Noongar people of Western Australia.

Since the groundbreaking Koolark Koort Koorliny (Heart Coming Home) exhibition at the John Curtin Gallery in September 2013 – where the entire collection of Carrolup artworks were presented for the very first time and within weeks of its return to Australia from the US – Curtin University has been committed to tour as much of the Collection as possible throughout the Great Southern region With the support of touring partner Water Corporation, Curtin aims to provide an opportunity for people throughout the Great Southern to visit a nearby exhibition venue and see the original artworks. Mindful of their fragility, Curtin is also undertaking a critical conservation program with the support of The Copland Foundation to ensure they are preserved. This will allow future generations the opportunity to enjoy the same powerful experience this direct access provides today. To enhance future access without compromising the artworks, Curtin is also exploring the creation of limited editions of Preservation Copies as well as providing future online viewing by digitising the entire Collection.

Expanding our understanding of Noongar history and culture is extremely important. Acknowledging the sadness arising from the tragedies of the past, we wish to bring people together and nurture awareness of the richness and diversity of Noongar culture as well as recognise its inherant resilience. There will be increasing opportunity for Noongar people to share their stories and have them preserved for future generations through the Gathering Oral Histories project that Curtin began in 2015 with support from Lotterywest.

Through working together, we wish to share, research and preserve this collection for future generations. Profoundly important historical and cultural artifacts from the Stolen Generations, these artworks shine like a beacon of hope from this dark period in our history. By learning more about how care and respect transformed the lives of these Stolen Generations children at Carrolup, it is hoped that new generations will be inspired to go forward with genuine optimism that positive change and enduring reconciliation will enable healing.