Russell and Linda's legacy - a story to be told ….

By Roslyn Premont, Colin Leel (co-author), Posted 01 February 2021

Our journey into the extraordinary world created by Linda Syddick Napaltjarri… extracts by her partner Russell Sim…

Chapter 1 - If I ever had to make a day for you…the revealing writings by Russell Sim about his partner and love of his life, Linda Syddick Napaltjarri

Roslyn Linda Russell

With the about to be launched documentary on Linda Syddick’s life, it is perhaps a timely moment to read and share the writings by Russell Sim, the devoted partner of Linda Syddick.

Going through the historical archive of Gallery Gondwana, my attention has been brought to bear on the reams of Russell’s handwritten notes that documented each of Linda’s painting. They contain so much of Linda’s rich life and the thought processes behind her vast body of paintings. During the early 1990’s, Linda was very prolific and highly experimental with a thirst to document all her experiences and feelings. Russell was fascinated by all these stories and his background as a scientist knew how significant it was to put all this down. 

Amongst the papers are ideas for a book on Linda that dates back to 1996. Perhaps this is why I kept the treasure trove paper trail safely all these years.

I am transported back to our friendship from before the beginnings of Gallery Gondwana in 1990. I met Linda in the late 1980’s at the government gallery I was managing. The Centre for Aboriginal Artists was a beehive of activity and where countrymen stopped by when in Alice Springs to check who was in town. Linda and her stepfather Shorty Lungkata Tjungurrayi were in the extended family group of senior lawmen, Nosepeg Tjunkata Tjupurrula and Dr George Tjapaltjarri. I always remember her as a powerful forceful character who seemed totally at home sitting with this awe inspiring group of senior men. 

Indeed, the reading is tinged with a touch of sadness that Russell himself is no longer with us and that perhaps he can look down on us to see that we are doing something with all the written pages he has left us.

My colleague Colin Leel and I have embarked on a journey and we invite you to join us as we share this treasure trove over the next while ….

As I read, I come across this lovely poem that Russell and Linda left me after one of the many stay over visits…

If I ever had to make a day for you... Love From Russell And Linda

If I ever had to make a day for you.
I would make a morning shiny and new.
I would make each day last for all time.
If… … … … … … …  moonshine.

Thanks for having us,
Love from Russell & Linda

Now I read through all the hand written stories that Russell so carefully inscribed, a legacy done not for him, but for Linda. Yet the careful detailing of his writing about the times and life of Linda and the stories of each of her paintings spoke volumes of a loving person, devoted to his partner…

So it is, I sit here with my colleague Colin Leel, carefully reading through the writings and bringing them to you through this series of articles. In no specific order, we will touch on the many strands of their lives brought to us through the works of Linda Syddick that include:

and whilst all this is about Linda Syddick Napaltjarri, it is also about her partner Russell Sim…..

  1. Russell and Linda’s legacy - a story to be told ….
  2. A Love Story
  3. Linda and Russell’s Visit
  4. In the beginning… Leaving home, 1943


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