Elma Lawrie


Elma Lawrie is a descendant of the Mirning and Kokatha clans. Most of her schooling was at the Koonibba Lutheran Mission. She recalls enjoying making drawings on the long blackboard in the classroom. Elma was in her mid-teens, in Kimba, when she was introduced to painting and the enjoyment of that experience never left her.

Elma has said that Painting was always my aspiration. Landscapes, Birds, and then Aboriginal Dot Painting. I think it's in our blood. My family are all artistic, and are passionate about their talents - Verna Lawrie, Beaver Lennon and also the late Bernadette Lennon just to mention a few. Lawrie has always enjoyed trying out new things in her art and her work has always expressed this through inventive compositions and rich colour exchanges. The paintings Selected for Tough (er) Love have all these attributes. Added to this is an emerging, confident style in creating a powerful sense of movement through a distinctive style of mark making and infilling. In developing this style Lawrie followed her instincts as an artist. As she comments, "it's that moment when it's turning out the way you want and you say - that's it.

As a child Elma was taken to places and sites of significance for Mirning people, particularly the Bunda Cliffs along the head of the Bight. She learnt about the Dreaming accounts which told of the Whale Spirit rising from the depths to greet the Morning Star and creating the earth and sky. The Mirning are Whale - Dreaming people who know the Head of the Bight as the gateway to the Galaxy. Of the paintings in Tough (er) Love she comments, Blowholes can be found everywhere on the Nullarbor. Our ancestors could tell by listening to the sounds of the waves and the wind in the blowholes if the tides were in or out, or even if the currents were strong.

This happened during every season. When you could hear the soft wind and waves, this indicated that the tides were out and our people could climb down the cliff to collect the Seafood from the beach. When the tides are high and the sea is rough you can hear and see the strong wind and waves. The Blowholes on the Nullarbor represent the Blowholes of the Whales. The Whales are the totem of the Mirning people.


  • Elma has had a long association with the Tjutjuna Aboriginal Arts & Culture Centre and has exhibited her work regularly.
  • 'Gara Mirnaarda Exhibition', Ceduna, Port Augusta, SA, 2016
  • 'Our Mob, Art Space', Adelaide Festival Centre, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015
  • 'Tjutjuna Palya Kutu', Red Poles Gallery McLaren Vale, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
  • 'Desert to Dunes', Country Arts S.A Touring Exhibition, 2010.


Featured Artworks in:

  • Art Collector Magazine
  • Artlink Magazine
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop