Thursday, 21 March 2013

Shining Star

A female ancestor with a particular talent.

My mother's mother and her mother were excellent seamstresses, embroiderers and cooks. Their work with a needle was particularly fine, they worked to a standard I am still aspiring to but haven't achieved. They were both clever and capable.

My father's mother was an artist. She could turn her hand to most visual arts (but she was a shocking cook and couldn't really sew, although she could knit). Nanna was a difficult person, very bitter and angry, and a racist with it, but the more I find out about her life, the more I understand why - I don't condone or excuse it, but I do begin to understand. One of the things that frustrated her in life is that she would have liked to have done something professionally with her life but wasn't able to. The needs of her husband and children had to come first, and when she worked to support them all, it had to be in something with a quick return. Grandpa always viewed her art as a hobby and never really took it seriously, and that annoyed Nanna.

Not an ancestor, but a relative, was Clarice Marelle Maxwell, related through the Ellem side. Marelle was a gifted musician whose father  couldn’t stand that she could play the piano by ear. He sent her to violin lessons and her sister to piano, but Marelle listened to her sister playing and simply repeated it when her father wasn’t around. She met Arthur Oliver Slade at a hotel where he was singing and she had gone with a friend. Someone dobbed her in as a pianist and next she knew, she was on stage playing while Arthur played the violin. They began working together, playing hotels in Circular Quay and then around Australia. The couple were married in 1966 and toured Europe before coming back to Australia to continue in the entertainment business.

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