BIOGRAPHY Eileen Harrison
Born on Bungyarnda (Lake Tyers) Mission Station in 1948, I lived with my ten siblings and parents until 1963. We moved to the Western District of Ararat, where I went to school, only to leave at the age of 14. I now reside in the West Gippsland town of Warragul where I raised my family. I have studied Art and Design at Gippsland TAFE in Morwell winning the 2002 Training Award. I am a Kurnai woman, an artist and a respected elder. I combine a sense of purpose, with life experiences in attaining my personal achievements within my art. I have come a long way since the days on the Mission overcoming many barriers including racism, dispossession and deafness.
In 1997 I had a bionic ear, cochlea implant which introduced me to a new and exciting world and boosted my confidence to take steps to let my art emerge. I commenced the Certificate III/IV in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Art in 2002. Subsequently I have achieved great accolades as an artist with my work being highly sought after two initial successful exhibitions which were sell out successes. I used the skills I acquired through my local art exhibitions and I have now had three solo exhibitions to my credit of which two were very successful.
In 2004 I received the NAIDOC award for the Baw Baw Shire artist of the year in my home community of Warragul. In 2007 I received two more awards for recognition of my artwork, the RMF Recognition for (Artistic and Cultural Heritage) a certificate of recognition for my contribution to the arts.
In 2007 I took part in a Wild Dogs Down Under tour group of six local Baw Baw Shire artists which toured regional Victoria galleries and went on a successful international tour of China.. In Jiujiang, Jiangxi Province, the sister city of the Baw Baw Shire, we received great publicity, featuring on the front page of five newspapers and twice interviewed on television. As guests of the government, we visited a few great artists and were welcomed into their homes. This was my first trip out of Australia and I enjoyed every minute of that trip to China. I would hope to do it again one day in the future, but also look forward to hosting our fellow artists from JiuJiang, a project we are all looking forward to.
My artwork not only projects remarkable strength, it also reflects sensitivity of the spirit and passion for detail. I draw on my Kurnai heritage as inspiration for my artwork, focusing on the use of lines, patterns and vibrant colours to bring out delicate and intricate designs in my bold and strong images. My career has flourished in the last few years through artist in residence placements producing school murals, paintings for the Warragul Regional College and commissioned works for the Baw Baw Shire. My works have been commissioned by the Department of Natural Resources an Environment, Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria), Community Health Services and Local Gippsland Councils. I have participated in the Mallacoota Festival, and have works shown in numerous and other galleries and I am represented in many private collections. My work has been immortalised by the Department of Justices Victorian Aboriginal Agreement “Our People our Country” I have two other paintings which adorn the walls in the Queens Hall Parliament House (Melbourne).