More than 1,000 photos depicting the life faced by Australia's Stolen Generation have arrived at the University of Newcastle for one of the country's most significant travelling art shows.
In Living Memory is touring NSW and contains the surviving photographic records of the former NSW Aborigines Welfare Board, which forcibly removed Indigenous children from their families and placed them in institutions.
Taken between 1919 and 1966, the photographs include group portraits of Stolen Generation children in boarding homes and training institutions, as well as some historic pictures of families and various community scenes.
Many of the photos have "unidentified person" recorded on them, and no indication of where they were taken.
The University is hoping visitors to the exhibition will be able to identify some of the children or other people in the pictures and contribute to the archival database that forms part of the show.
Gillean Shaw, University of Newcastle Art Curator, said she could not think of another exhibition that so clearly outlined what happened in Australia's history in terms of cultural material.
"In terms of sensitivity, this exhibition is extraordinary. The database could help local Aboriginal people trace family or identify relatives," Ms Shaw said.
Amanda Kelly, Resource Coordinator of The Wollotuka Institute, has spent months liaising with Aboriginal communities around Newcastle and the Hunter region about the exhibition.
"I imagine that for many who have lived through the hardship of Aboriginal protection policy this may be an opportunity for them to reflect and come to terms with the past," Ms Kelly said.
Due to the emotive nature of the exhibition, the University is providing quiet, comfortable places where people can study and discuss the images.
In Living Memory is presented by State Records and the NSW Department of Aboriginal Affairs. It is travelling to 17 venues around NSW until the end of 2010. Photographs by Mervyn Bishop, taken during the exhibition consultation process, are also on display.
In Living Memory is on display in The University Gallery until Saturday 7 November 2009. For this exhibition, The University Gallery will be open Monday to Friday from 10am - 6pm and Saturday from 12 - 3pm. The official opening of the exhibition will be held at 5.30pm on Wednesday 7 October 2009.