Aboriginal student reconciles her art and heritage

2 June 2017
Elissa Simonds is an Aboriginal student from Xavier College, Llandilo. Image: CEDP.

Xavier College, Llandilo, student Elissa Simonds uses her stunning paintings to send a powerful message and her Aboriginal heritage is the driving force behind her work.

The talented Year 10 artist has been commissioned by the principal to paint a school mural, which will involve Ingenious themes.  She plans to incorporate the handprints of both the local Aboriginal elder and the school principal in a black and white, swirling designed pattern.

“I believe my art helps the community by showing who we are and what we do. I am so proud of my Aboriginal heritage,” she said.

Elissa’s Aboriginal lineage comes from the Gamilaroi Nation in the Hunter Valley, and the Wiradjuri Nation in central NSW. She is also related to Diane Mudgee, and said her passionate about her heritage inspires her art.

Elissa on her art

“I really want to portray Ingenious culture in a good way,” she said.

As Reconciliation Week gets underway at Uluru, Elissa reflects on what it means to her. “I think it’s important to connect back to our roots. It’s who we are as a culture, and it’s who we are as a community.  As well as reconciliation with what has been done to us in the past.

“We are all part of the community. Everyone is one.”

Elissa on reconciliation


Elissa dreams of studying at the National Art School and later becoming a professional artist. “I think I got what it takes to be there,” she said.

She said she has a strong sense of community and wants to share her ideas through her painting and sketches.

Elissa will also paint a sign for the Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta’s High Support Needs Class, Kirinari, a part of the diverse learning needs service. Kirinari means “place of learning”.

Diverse Learning Needs manager Alma George said Elissa’s has impressed staff not only by her artistic brilliance, but also by her insight.

“Elissa is an extraordinary young lady and is quite profound in her observations and comments. We are very proud of her,” she said.

With thanks to CEDP.

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