An exhibition of the lost works from the 1930’s of anthropologist Carolyn Tennant-Kelly launched at the Ration Shed Museum in Cherbourg for NAIDOC week, July 4th 2011.
In 1989 near Kyogle in Northern NSW, a friend of Caroline Tennant Kelly’s, a local cattleman Grahame Gooding was clearing out her house after her death when he discovered a jumble of letters, papers, photographs and personal effects. Something made him resist the advice of neighbours to throw everything out. He kept the collection. More than 20 years later 2 doctoral students searching for the works of noted anthropologist Carolyn Tennant-Kelly advertised in Northern Rivers media for information about her. Grahame Gooding contacted them to say he had a steel trunk in his possession that might interest them. In it the students discovered a treasure of writings, documents and photographs – the life’s work of one of Australia’s most important academics
Among her areas of work and research, Tennant-Kelly spent many months in Cherbourg in the early 1930’s interviewing and recording the stories of the residents who had been brought there from far and wide in the preceding decades. She also took photographs of people and events.
This work is now being brought back to Cherbourg. Grahame and Stephanie Gooding are travelling up to Cherbourg with Anthropologists Kim de Rijke and Tony Jefferies. They are coming to present the work to an audience of Cherbourg Elders, residents, Indigenous visitors, academics and other interested people as part of the launch of an exhibition of the Caroline Tennant-Kelly’s work. Curated by Peter Trail and Jo Besley and the Ration Shed Museum staff, the exhibition will feature many of Tennant-Kelly’s images and writings. The exhibition has been made possible by funding assistance from the Aboriginal Community Interest Consultative Committee (ACICC) and the Australian Government Indigenous Co-ordination Centre (ICC).
The event opening on the 4th July is by invitation only with a Community Open Day for the Cherbourg and South Burnett community on the Tuesday 5th July. All are welcome to attend the Open Day – it is a free event and runs from 10am to 3pm. There will be a sausage sizzle, activities for children, films, music and much more. The exhibition will run for a few weeks and all are welcome to visit the Ration Shed. Entry to the Ration Shed Museum after the open day will be $10 and the Cherbourg community have free entry.
Also at the Open Day on the 5th of July there will also be a special launch of a large banner (An IRADF funded project) made by the Murgon State High School Students Mentoring group. This is a group – funded by The Smith Family – who are working on leadership challenges and improving educational opportunities for students at the school. Come and discover the meaning of the symbols and the story of the banner painting and be part of our great diverse community.
A CD of all Caroline Tennant Kelly’s material about Cherbourg will be available for sale. The CD-rom costs $15, with all proceeds going to ongoing events at the Ration Shed.