On the Outskirts - Allawah Grove Aboriginal Settlement

Temporary Exhibition | Updated 8 years ago

Image copyright of Allawah Grove Collection
'I'm a little teapot', Allawah Grove Kindergarten, Black and white photograph, 64 x 74.5cm

The exhibition showcases 50 photographic images that allow the audience to observe some aspects of life as it was within the community of Allawah Grove. Funded by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Services, the Holmes à Court family and the Berndt Museum of Anthropology at the University of Western Australia, the exhibition represents a small part of a collection bequeathed to the Berndt Museum of Anthropology by Cyril and Elsie Gare. The Gare's were both influential members of the Allawah Grove administration and a strong unified voice for the Quaker Service Council Australia with whom they affiliated.

The establishment of Allawah Grove grew out of the post-war assimilation policies of the then Native Welfare Department, which it was hoped that the housing could be used to simulate suburban living within the confines of departmental control until residents secured homes in the metropolitan area. Allawah Grove was highly scrutinised by government, organisations and citizens alike. From its beginnings in 1958 until its closure in 1969, the families of Allawah Grove faced an uncertain future as the administration were bombarded with threats of closure and a myriad of bad publicity. However, the administrative dedication to the project, the high regard of the various organisations that supported it and the public uneasiness surrounding the treatment of Australia's Indigenous people, kept Allawah Grove running for just over a decade.

This exhibition is an opportunity to inform Western Australian communities about a vital element of both the history and heritage of the Nyoongar people. These evocative images of people and place document a journey of rapid change and transition within an intensely prescribed social forum. The photographs are suggestive of the resilience, the dignity, and the sense of humour of our people.

It is envisaged the exhibition will tour the regional South-West of Western Australia, following its Perth launch. Research documentation and the commentaries of Allawah Grove residents on family experiences, cultural setting and social comment will provide the basis for a publication to be developed by Robyn Smith Walley and Dr John Stanton in collaboration with former Allawah Grove families.