She pays tribute to a St Kilda murder victim through the art in their home
“Before getting on The Block we researched St Kilda thoroughly for inspiration - being from WA, we didn’t know too much about the area. The craziest thing was, in our research, prostitution was one of the news articles that kept popping up. Specifically, a name and a photo of a woman - she had a beautiful face, a lovely smile and kind eyes - and her name was Tracey Connelly.
The calming 'Mother' by Jeska Valk was a standout piece in El'ise and Matt's Oslo guest bedroom.
“The reason there were so many articles on Tracey was because she was murdered, and still, to this day, her murderer has never been found. I was shocked and blown away – why? Tracey was a sex worker – was it because her job was classified as ‘dirty’ and nobody cared? Did they want to sweep this under the carpet? Did anyone really care? As I kept reading, it became very apparent that prostitution in this area is looked down upon – no one really wants to talk about it. In the articles I found, there were also a lot of common themes of drugs and homelessness too. Also, Tracey was a mum - and this broke my heart.
It made me think "how lucky I am, and about what I could do on The Block to bring beauty to the street, and to honour Tracey and all the other women in her situation that had worked the area in times gone by," Elise tells Insider Style.
“It dawned on me that there would be so many other single mums out there doing this job not because they wanted to, but because they needed to keep a roof over their family’s head. Maybe the reason they were doing this job was because they needed to survive? It made me think about my situation, how lucky I am, and about what I could do on The Block to bring beauty to the street, and to honour Tracey and all the other women in her situation that had worked the area in times gone by.
“My Mum always taught me to look at the inner beauty in people, and that’s what I pride myself on doing daily. I felt like I needed to say something, and the best way I felt I could do this was to try to give Tracey, and the women who worked with her in St Kilda, a voice again; to showcase them in artworks in a tasteful way.
The judges loved their all star guest bedroom, which featured that bold, art-inspired feature wall a collab between artist Fleur Harris and Grafico Walls.
“I spoke to Nancy and Jarrod from Art Lovers Australia and told them the story and what I wanted out of my artwork selections for our Block house – they never judged at all. They were excited to start working on my vision with me. Every single artist I picked for our home was new to me. I chose them not because of their names, but because I felt they connected with the story. I wanted the art I chose to be figurative artworks of beautiful, strong, imperfect woman. In some of the art, the women’s faces are covered, which I thought could be symbolic of the shame usually associated with what they were doing, and the fact they had lost their ‘voice’ in the public eye.
“As you walk through the house and it slowly reveals itself to you, it also reveals these beautiful women. In the final room - the garage - the mural we commissioned has a woman showing her face. She’s beautiful, brave and bold. Nobody is judging her - she is free.
“Tracey’s murderer had never been found and the case is still open. The story saddened me so much - I hope I’ve been able to do her story justice through the art I’ve chosen in the house. I want everyone to remember these women are still someone’s daughter, sister, mother and to remain respectful."
View some of the beautiful women artworks El'ise selected to grace the Oslo's walls:
El'ise and Matt filled their hallways with beautiful and unique art "I wanted the art I chose to be figurative artworks of beautiful, strong, imperfect woman."
“As you walk through the house and it slowly reveals itself to you, it also reveals these beautiful women," El'ise tells Insider Style.
Matt and El'ise formal lounge where Neale Whitaker thought El’ise and Matt had “told a great story,” one of sophisticated luxe, but in a useable family space.
“In the final room - the garage - the mural we commissioned has a woman showing her face. She’s beautiful, brave and bold. Nobody is judging her - she is free El'ise tells Insider Style.
Read more about Tracey’s story here
Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential online report.
View El'ise and Matt's completed Block home here
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