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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Kondelea (Della) Elliott, 1979

Ivy Shore

oil on masonite (frame: 145.5 cm x 115.0 cm, support: 121.5 cm x 91.5 cm)

Kondelea Elliott (1917–2011), union official and women’s rights lobbyist, was the daughter of an Australian mother and a Greek migrant father who ran cafes in Sydney in the 1920s. At 14, Kondelea (known as Della) left school to train as a shorthand typist and became involved in Young Communist League activities, speaking on the Communist Party stump in the Domain and engaging in left-wing theatre. Known as Della Nicholas, in 1940, she was elected to the central council of the NSW branch of the Federated Clerks’ Union; in 1943 she became its assistant secretary, remaining in the post for five years. During the 1940s, as a delegate to the NSW Labor Council and the ACTU, she campaigned for equal pay for women, and during the 1950s worked for the Waterside Workers’ Federation. In this way she met Eliot V Elliott, long-term leader of the Seamen’s Union of Australia; they married, and she worked in the federal office of the Seamen’s Union from 1955 to 1988. In retirement, she researched union history and helped establish the Jessie Street Women’s Library, while breeding champion Scottish terriers. She received a NSW Premier’s Award for Community Service in 2000. Her name is perpetuated in her gift of an annual scholarship for an Aboriginal student to the Women’s College at the University of Sydney.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Jeannie Highet and Kim Buchan 2012

Accession number: 2012.235

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Ivy Shore (age 64 in 1979)

Kondelea Elliott (age 62 in 1979)

Subject professions

Activism

Related portraits

1. Ivy Shore, 1961. All Graeme Inson.

Related information

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.