Tell your story - local voices
Woollahra Council celebrated NSW Seniors Festival in March with a range of activities for our seniors. One of the highlights was the Tell Your Story event at Woollahra Gallery at Redleaf. Eastside FM Arts Thursday presenter, Maisy Stapleton, interviewed a number of Woollahra’s community who volunteered to tell their stories during Seniors Week.
These stories encapsulate the lives of many who have made Woollahra their home and all interviewees give us a glimpse of diverse lives as they speak generously and frankly about their personal experiences.
Molly arrived in Sydney from Japan as a child of 4, at the outbreak of World War 2. Then until the late 1960s, her life was in constant flux between Australia, England and Argentina, finally returning to live in Australia with her Argentinian husband and two children, again on the move between Woollahra and a country property and eventually settling in the family apartment in Point Piper, where she is today. In her conversation, Molly allows us to glimpse her charmed life from working at Elizabeth Arden in London to watching her husband play polo.
Councillor Isabelle Shapiro OAM
Isabelle followed her parents to Australia as a young woman from South Africa, with her husband and three children. She recounts how she joined Council after mobilising the community against overdevelopment in Bellevue Hill. As a freshly elected Councillor, she was given the oversight of community safety and achieved lasting impact in suicide prevention at The Gap and management of graffiti in the area. Isabelle also speaks of how she turned her own experience with breast cancer into support for women suffering cancer and her love of art drove her to the establishment of public art in the municipality and support for arts projects which have culminated in the establishment of the Gallery at Redleaf.
Del first came to Woollahra as a school boarder. She married a city boy and returned to live in various parts of the locality. Del has spent much of her life volunteering for community groups and her children’s school, but the Olympics gave her the opportunity to become an Airport Ambassador, greeting arrivals initially during the heady days of the Olympics and afterwards helping visitors to Sydney find their feet, their hotel and their lost passports.
Gloria was born in the Philippines and spent her early life in Spain. She settled in Sydney in the 1960s with her husband, then came children. Despite her European background, Gloria enthusiastically embraced life in Sydney. She worked for Qantas for over 30 years, taking all opportunities to travel, but always returning. Gloria now works as a volunteer in the Woollahra Gallery at Redleaf and her creative spark inspires her busy life, as she is always making something, whether a painting, a sewing project or a special meal.
Anna is Romanian born and came to Australia as a young woman with her husband. After a stint at the Alliance Francaise, she capitalised on her art studies in Romania and was appointed a registrar at the Art Gallery of NSW. A distinguished career in the art world followed, including managing the Archibald Prize at the Gallery; working at the Ministry for the Arts and as Director of Visual Arts at the Australia Council. Anna learnt early in her career to be a strong advocate for the arts - she found herself in court advocating for the Archibald Prize to remain as an art prize and in her 13 years at the Australia Council, constantly represented the importance of the visual arts. She now shares her love of visual arts as a volunteer at the Wollahra Gallery.
Victoria brings a different perspective to the interviews. Her interest lies in the history of her family, her Irish great great great grandfather having arrived in Sydney in 1841 as a bounty immigrant and settling on what is now Oxford Street, probably opposite Victoria Barracks. Victoria tells a roistering tale of her ancestors and their lives, including family myths and her discoveries of past misdeeds. She has researched historic documents, such as court transcripts and Trove – the National Library’s remarkable compilation of digitised newspapers, family records and photographs. Victoria’s has embraced the arts in both her career and her life, at one time living in an extraordinary artistic share house in the ‘70s, of which more needs to be told!