Carrolup was originally one of the first settlements created to hold Aboriginal families forcibly removed from the surrounding towns in the southern part of Western Australia. in 1905 the Aboriginal Protection Act was passed into legislation in Western Australia. Around 1910 the non-Aboriginal residents in the Katanning area convinced the government to remove all Aboriginal people from the town to the settlement at Carrolup.
To remain near their children who were segregated into the school, parents were forced to camp nearby at the river. Carrolup was considered a place more suitable to animal husbandry than human habitation. Yet from these surroundings grew an astonishing school of art created by children aged from seven to fourteen years of age. Their work was so successful in capturing the eyes of the art world that it was exhibited in London and New York in the late forties and fifties.
SHOW US A LIGHT is the unique story of these child artists and their creative legacy which can be seen in the work of today's artists. Nyoongah artists Alma Toomath, Milton Jackson, Liza Johns, Simpson Kelly and Tjyllungoo discuss their art and early influences. The settlement is now named Marribank Family Centre and houses a number of artistic endeavours. Revenue from fabrics, pottery and jewellery production go towards supporting the Centre and paying the wages of the fifteen people employed there. In 1989 the Marribank Aboriginal Corporation took control of the Centre. The lease which had been held by the Baptist Union of Churches since 1952 was turned over to the community. No longer a recipient of funds from the Department of Community Services, the Corporation now controls the destiny of the Centre.
The story of Carrolup is a remarkable one told through the words of the child artists of the forties and fifties and echoed in the hope and the optimism of today's artworkers of the Marribank Family Centre.