Youthful Art

Published: Thursday 15 September 2005

-- Aborigines Australia / USA

The pastel, titled "Down to Drink", depicts tangerine-coloured hills, a moon in a dark blue sky, a tangle of trees, kangaroos converging on a flowing stream. The inscription on "The Blue Plate", says the artist, Reynold Hart, was "aged 13 years". Created half a century ago by children in an Australian internment camp, they are part of a trove of 113 artworks that emerged recently from a dusty storage space in Colgate University, New York usa. The artworks, five of which were on display in the second week of August at Colgate University's Picker present a poignant story: all were created in the late 1940's and early 1950's by aboriginal children forcibly taken from their families in what the Australian government described as an assimilation programme. Donated to the Picker in 1966, the drawings, pastels and watercolours languished until a visiting lecturer from Australia, Howard Morphy, found 65 of them in April 2004 upon opening some black boxes. Morphy immediately recognised the work of children at the Carrolup River Native Settlement, a government "resettlement" institution for aboriginal people from southwest region of Western Australia.

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