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chance to visualise
BY JUDI MCLEAN
Yaegl Bunjalung woman, Elsie Randall, is an
Aboriginal artist. Her work is unique and her
use of both traditional and non-traditional
colours and subjects has resulted in some
amazing art pieces. However, Elsie doesn't
view her artworks as objects of beauty
in spite of her accomplishments, both
nationally and internationally. She says art's
real worth is in the therapy it provides to
release someone from a traumatic past or
from everyday challenges.
Elsie has spent a lifetime painting painful
memories, transferring trauma and
progressing to a better place. Her passion
for art began as a five-year-old living on an
Aboriginal mission on the far north coast
with her family. As the eldest child, Elsie
assumed responsibility for her siblings,
often leading them away from abusive
situations to cubby houses hidden in the
bush, where the children played games and
mimicked the life they hoped to live.
Symbols and use of colour were developed
over time to represent Elsie's experiences.
Only Elsie could decipher their meaning.
"It gave me a chance to visualise those
experiences, reflect on them and move on,
without the fear of anyone knowing what
the paintings represented,"
she said. The same
symbols and colours are
evident in her artwork
As a child Elsie dreamed
of being an advocate
for Aboriginal women and children. She
moved to Sydney when she was 17 to
obtain necessary skills, starting her working
life as an apprentice hairdresser. While
she gained useful communication skills,
hairdressing was not her final career choice.
Employment with Juvenile Justice and the
Department of Community Services proved
more valuable, providing Elsie with some
Elsie Randall with some of her artwork. Photo courtesy of Judi McLean.
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23 years of experience in welfare, health,
family support and youth justice. Elsie
continues in this field, working as an advisor
for government programs for Aboriginal
Perhaps Elsie's greatest
contribution to her people
has been in the sharing
of her form of art with
Aboriginal women, youth
and children in crisis.
Countless sessions of
healing art have assisted
many in their recovery from abuse and
drug and alcohol addiction. They have also
assisted women who have lost custody of
As part of her advocacy for Aboriginal
people, Elsie and her partner have worked
tirelessly to establish an art gallery for
Aboriginal artists. Unlike most galleries
which exhibit Aboriginal Art, the Free Spirit
gallery is the only privately owned and
operated Aboriginal gallery in Newcastle. It
has been established to ensure the artists
receive the greatest percentage of the sale
of any work sold.
2013 is proving a busy year for Elsie with her
consultancy work, private healing sessions,
an invitation to exhibit her work in New
York in November and the usual chores
associated with family life. As she continues
to share her many gifts to promote better
lives for Aboriginal people, there is little
doubt that Elsie Randall will be a truly
respected elder for her people.
For more information on healing
sessions or the Free Spirit art gallery
P Elsie Randall 0401 580 789 or E elsie.
As part of her dream of becoming a respected Aboriginal elder, Elsie Randall
has mastered her art and used it to heal her people...
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