Mum Shirl Black Saint of Redfern – exhibition for NAIDOC 2019

Land Rights Protest, Sydney Town Hall 1984 (c) Elaine Pelot-Syron

Mum Shirl c Elaine Syron

Elaine Pelot Syron launches her latest exhibition ‘Mum Shirl Black Saint of Redfern’ on July 4th 2019 at the Coo-ee Aboriginal Art Gallery, Oxford St,  Paddington.

Coinciding with this year’s NAIDOC week, the exhibition opens July 4th at 6pm with an official opening from Dr Jeff McMullen, The Hon Dame Marie Bashir, and Aunty Millie Ingram and Dr Mick Asher in conversation. Special guests include Peter & Richard Smith – Mum Shirl’s grandsons.

The exhibition is being curated by the Rev Ray Minnecon, Director at Bunji Consultancies. Ray Minniecon is a descendant of the Kabi Kabi nation and the Gurang Gurang nation of South-East Queensland. Ray is also a descendant of the South Sea Islander people with connections to the people of Ambrym Island. Ray will also MC the opening event.

The exhibition of limited edition photographs by Elaine celebrate the life of Coleen Shirley Perry Smith AM MBE, better known as ‘Mum Shirl’ and Elaine describes why Mum Shirl was the inspiration for the exhibition: “She never attended school and was brought up by her grandparents in the bush in Cowra, NSW. She could not read or write, was epileptic, but had an extraordinary life, and was respected by all. During her life, Mum Shirl, Shirley Smith was given many awards for her community service. She fought against a stereotyped and racist white society where Aboriginal people over centuries have been deleted from Australian history books. She took in and cared for over 250 children and not just Aboriginal children. Mum Shirl worked with the Redfern Legal Service and was visiting prisons before the Legal Service was even started.”

This exhibition is also a personal one for Elaine as Mum Shurl visited Elaine’s husband and artist Gordon Syron for the ten years he was in prison.

See the NAIDOC week site for more details about visiting the exhibition.

Mum Shirl c Elaine Syron - Copy

Mum Shirl c Elaine Syron – Copy

Mum Shirl book cover (c) Elaine Syron

Mum Shirl book cover (c) Elaine Syron

mum churl bondi (c) Elaine Pelot Syron

All photographs (c) Elaine Pelot Syron


Two grandsons of Mum Shirl: Peter Smith, Councillor for Mid North Coast, and his brother Richard; gave permission for Gordon and Elaine Syron-Pelot to host this event in honour of Mum Shirl.



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