C3West MCA

The Blacktown Native Institution was a residential school for young Aboriginal and Maori children that operated from 1823 – 1829. Originally located at Parramatta and later moved to what is now known as Blacktown, it is one of the first known sites where Aboriginal children were removed from their parents and institutionalised – a practice that continued until the 1970s. In 2013, the site was activated through a series of on-site artworks and an exhibition at Blacktown Arts Centre.
Over three events on the site, artists Darren Bell, Karla Dickens, Steven Russell, Kristine Stewart, and Leanne Tobin came together with the community, local artists and various experts to develop a vision for the future, share and collect stories, and create new artworks. Two Artist Camps were held in November 2014 and March 2015, with a Corroboree celebration held in November 2015.
The Artist Camps and Corroboree include an iterative and interlinked series of discussions, workshops, and storytelling sessions. They bring together Aboriginal artists, community members and leaders across a number of fields, including historians, designers, and academics. The themes of caring for country, physical interpretations of the site, and storytelling will be woven throughout the program as a framework for understanding the historical importance of the site and laying the path for its future uses. Each event features a large outdoor workshop area and brings together a combination of artistic, technical and community cultural knowledge and practice.
The project worked towards three outcomes: the creation of a website as a keeping place for personal stories, histories, and archival material about the Blacktown Native Institution, which has launched and will be added to over the life of the project; creative direction and innovative solutions for the master plan for future permanent usage of the site; and, the creation of temporary public artworks on the site of the Blacktown Native Institution by the project artists, to be launched at the Corroboree in November 2015.