Kevin Butler - Stolen Generations Maze

Indigenous artist Kevin Butler is a member of the Stolen Generation. Kevin paints about themes relating to his culture and heritage.

Painting E094384 - Home

Painting E094384 - Home
Photographer: Finton Mahoney © Australian Museum

Born in Nambucca Heads NSW in 1962 he was removed from his family by the Aboriginal Protection Board at the age of two weeks, and adopted by Max and Norma Butler, a non-Aboriginal family who lived at Granville in western Sydney.

"I was always aware of my Aboriginal heritage. My adopted family constantly reminded me to be proud of who I am and of the unique race of people that I belong to. It wasn’t until 1988, during the year of the bicentennial protest/celebrations, that I began to paint. It was here that I could express my spiritual connection with my culture through my artwork".

In 1996 Kevin Butler was commissioned to paint a series of paintings for the new Indigenous Australians gallery. Kevin painted eighteen works in acrylic paint on board, which form the ‘Stolen Generations Maze’. These paintings are a 3D representation of a poster designed by Kevin in 1996 for the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families.

The maze outlined different themes associated with the forced separation by the Aboriginal Protection Board of Indigenous children from their families, and explored the effect that this had on the lives of members of the Stolen Generation. Themes explored related to death, poor health, drug and alcohol dependence, domestic violence, child abuse and racism. The paintings symbolise the hardships that many of these children suffered during not only their childhoods, but adult lives too. Not all stolen children were able to reach the end of the maze, and be reunited with their home and families. Too many children were physically and mentally traumatised, and were separated from their families and culture forever.

While the maze is no longer on display, Kevin’s artists’ statement can be read here alongside photographs of the paintings from the 'Stolen Generations Maze'.

Ms Rebecca Fisher , Collections Officer - Culture: Australia
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