International Herald Tribune
From Aboriginal children, painful and poignant art
Felicia R. Lee
Saturday, August 20, 2005
Quoted from article:
The pastel, titled “Down to Drink,” depicts a terrain of enchantment – tangerine-colored hills, a moon in a dark blue sky, a tangle of trees, kangaroos converging on a flowing stream.
Created half a century ago by a boy in an Australian internment camp, it is part of a trove of 113 artworks that emerged recently from a dusty Colgate University storage space.
A bit of writing by the young artist, Parnell Dempster, survives as well. “Now I am 14 years old,” he said. “I would like to be something good. I don’t like camp life.”
The artworks, five of which are on display here at the Picker Art Gallery at Colgate, present both an exciting opportunity and a poignant story. All were created in the late 1940s and early ’50s by Aboriginal children who had been forcibly taken from their families in what the government described as an assimilation program.
Donated to the Picker in 1966, the drawings, pastels and watercolors languished in gallery archives until a visiting lecturer from Australia, Howard Morphy, found 65 of them in April 2004 upon opening some black boxes.
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