Farewell to a much loved Aunty

This article contains reference to the name of a deceased person.


I was very honoured to be invited to celebrate the extraordinary life of Aunty Elaine Russell 1941-2017.

Elaine Russell was a proud Kamileroi woman born at Tingha, New South Wales. She spent her early years at La Perouse in Sydney. Her family then moved to the Murrin Bridge Mission, on the Lachlan River, near Lake Cargellico, New South Wales.

Aunty Elaine had a lifelong love of art, particularly drawing. But she didn’t begin her formal artistic career until 1993, at the age of 52, when she enrolled in the Certificate of Visual Arts course Eora Centre TAFE(Technical and Further Education) in Redfern.

Elaine became a member of Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Cooperative with her paintings of mission life, such as attending school and routine inspection days. She was a finalist in the 2005 and 2006 Parliament of New South Wales Indigenous Art Prize, and the recipient of the 3rd Indigenous Heritage Art Award in 2000.

In 2000 Aunty Elaine published A is for Aunty, an alphabetical account of mission life for children designed to encourage literacy and an awareness of Aboriginal history in the younger generation. It became the 2001 Children’s Book Council of Australia Eve Pownall Information Book Honour Book, and was shortlisted for the 2001 Children’s Book Council of Australia Picture Book Award. The shack that Dad Built, which is about the house Aunty Elaine's Dad constructed in La Perouse, was published in 2004 by Little Hare Books.

Aunty Elaine's work is in a number of national collections, including the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the National Gallery of Australia and the Museum and Gallery of the Northern Territory.

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