Childhoods past
Children's art of the twentieth century

Introduction | Social events | Political events | Special events | Personal and cultural identity | Hermannsberg and Aurukun school

School and family life | Writing patterns | Fingerpainting | Observations of daily life | 'Reach for the apple' | Frances Derham


The Gallery has an extensive collection of children's art donated over the years 1976–1986 by the artist and art educator Frances Derham. Throughout her life Frances Derham combined a steady output of paintings and drawings with a deep involvement in the art education of pre-school and disabled children. In the course of her career she travelled widely and built up a collection of thousands of children's drawings and paintings from many parts of the world.

Teaching was Derham’s great love and as her own children grew up, she taught art at the Melbourne Kindergarten Training College. There she began her life’s work dedicated to the study of child art and its function in liberating and developing the expressive and creative powers of the young. She espoused the ‘process, not the product’ slogan which was common at the time and which emerged as a reaction against the structured and rigid art programs of the earlier part of the century. She firmly believed that sound art practices would enhance the life of the young child through opportunities for self-expression. Derham’s legacy has provided opportunities for us all to admire and appreciate the art of children.