Richard P Campbell

Richard P Campbell

A survivor of the Stolen Generations, Richard was born in Bowraville in 1958. His mother was a Gumbaynggirr woman and his father was a member of the Dunghutti tribe.

Richard spent his early years living with his parents and four siblings (one older brother and three younger sisters) at Bowraville Aboriginal Mission.

It was there Richard was introduced to art making by his father who would carve and burn images on to boomerangs, shields and spears which he would sell for food for the family.

But in 1966 Richard and his four siblings were stolen from the family and Richard and his older brother were placed in Kinchela Boys Home near Kempsey.

As long as he lives, Richard will never be able to forget the day he was taken from his family.

“It was terrible. Policemen grabbed me and my older brother. They belted my brother up and busted his arm, and they dragged me out kicking and screaming, and then they locked us in a car,” Richard remembers.

“All we could hear was screaming from our Uncles and Aunties and cousins. We couldn’t do anything because the policemen were bloody big men; six foot-plus policemen.”

Richard says Kinchela Boys Home was a harsh, cruel environment, where boys were abused, had to work for their food, and were treated like objects, not humans. Disconnected from their families and communities, even their very identities were stolen from them as they were referred to by numbers instead of names.

“They told us to forget about our name, our culture, our spirituality. They just kept saying, ‘You’re not black, you’re white. You’re not Richard Campbell, you’re Number 28’,” Richard says.

“It was a place like hell. They used to give us water torture. The worst part was they used to strip us off and chain us up to a tree naked, and then the men used to come over and do whatever they like to us. It was a hideous time. Physical, mental and sexual abuse, it all happened there.”

During his time at Kinchela Boys Home Richard would sketch on the floorboards to ease the pain of being removed from his family and escape the reality of torture and abuse.

For Richard, healing from the trauma of his stolen childhood has been a lifelong journey and art has been a major part of how he has been able to reconnect with his Aboriginal culture.

As an adult Richard gained a Fine Arts Degree from Deakin University.

In 2008 Richard’s artwork work was selected to be represented at Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to coincide with World Youth Day. During this time Richard was an Artist in Residence at The Australian Museum.

In 2010, the Mary Mackillop Institute requested the use of two of Richard’s works to be used in the Canonisation Ceremony. Richard was fortunate enough to travel to Rome to witness the event.

Since then Richard has gone on to exhibit and sell artwork across New South Wales and Australia.

In 2020 Richard’s illustrations formed the basis for an animated film titled ‘Kinchela Boys Home’ which tells the story of how Richard and others were stolen from their families and the brutal treatment they received at the Boy’s Home.

Richard is a senior member of Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation which works to remember and tell the truth about the Stolen Generations.

Dunghutti Elder, Uncle Bob Mumbler

Driven by Aboriginal Elders, Coolamon Arts Hub gives established and emerging Aboriginal artists a professional platform to share their stories and sell their artwork.

- Dunghutti Elder, Uncle Bob Mumbler, former Chair of the Dunghutti Elders Council and a recipient of an Order of Australia Medal.

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