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Alma Toomath, 2001
Born in 1940, Alma Toomath was raised at Roelands Mission near Bunbury, in Western Australia's South-West, and became the first Aboriginal to attend Bunbury Senior High School. She broke more ground by completing a Diploma of Fine Arts at Claremont Technical College in 1972.
She has worked for the Department of Aboriginal Affairs as an Aboriginal Community Liaison, and as a lecturer on Aboriginal Art and Design, and on Cultural Industry Marketing, for Western Australian TAFE institutions. She has also been Artist in Residence at numerous public and private schools throughout Perth and regional Western Australia. She was one of the organisers of the 1986 Indian Ocean Arts Festival.
She has exhibited, alone and in company, since 1987, and her awards include NAIDOC Artist of the Year 1996 and Senior's Artist of the Year 2001.
Although she is one of the "stolen generation", Alma has maintained contact with Aboriginal elders and various cultural guardians throughout her life. For many years she has been active in Aboriginal communities through Western Australia, helping to preserve and promote their unique cultures through such organisations as the Birukmurri Aboriginal Art Gallery, Abmusic, Dumbartung Aboriginal Corporation, and the WA Arts Department.
Alma paints with oils, acrylics and watercolours, sculpts both wood and soapstone, and practices both jewellery and fabric painting. She is also an accomplished and popular storyteller.
Whatever her medium, her Aboriginal culture and background are never far away.