We were deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Alma Toomath (nee Cuttabutt) on 23 May 2021.
Aunty Alma was an extraordinary women who has left a lasting legacy on Western Australia’s arts and cultural sector and community more broadly.
Aunty Alma was the first Aboriginal women in Western Australia to complete a fine arts diploma.
She gave her time selflessly to the sector holding many roles including: as one of the organisers of the 1986 Indian Ocean Arts Festival; as a lecturer for Western Australian TAFE institutions; lecturing on Aboriginal Art and Design; and on Cultural Industry Marketing; as well as an Artist in Residence to a number of schools throughout Perth and regional Western Australia.
With her daughter Kathleen, Aunty Alma collaborated on several public art projects including a mural at the Langford Shopping Centre and ‘Yoordoorup Boorna’, a mural commission for Claisebrook Cove by the East Perth Redevelopment Authority.
Her work has been exhibited across the country. She was recognised with her receipt of the NAIDOC Artist of the Year award in 1996 and Senior’s Artist of the Year in 2001.
I had both the honour and privilege of meeting with Aunty Alma during the Carrolup Centre for Truth-Telling Establishment Ceremony in November last year at Curtin University. I remember the grace of her presence at that ceremony. To me I was amazed with her forbearance at it. After all that had happened to her at the time she was a child participating in the creation of that magnificent child art, she provided her effective blessing to the proceedings and a deep personal connection to the time.
Throughout her life Aunty Alma worked tirelessly to help preserve and promote the cultures of Aboriginal communities across Western Australia.
Hers is a lasting legacy.
Our deepest sympathies to her family.