ON THE other side of a pile of diaries, scraps of paper and notebooks stuffed with cuttings sat a tiny framed woman with a shiny bald head, bright blue eyes that never lost their focus and a deep strong voice that gave no hint of anything wrong. Deb Rielly was dying. Having acknowledged finally that she had to get her affairs in order, she had decided she needed to write her life story.
We entreated printers to speed the process of printing so she could see her book Just Because before she left us. It was almost embarrassing when I went back to them for one re-print … and then a second .. and then a third as the books sold out and Deb was still with us.
Her 50th birthday was on December 25 last year. She held her party early as she didn’t think she would see it. She did.
Given the taunts Deb endured as she opted not to wear a wig or scarf to disguise her bald head, we at ArtSpace and Archies Creek Hall decided to get together and hold the Archies Bald Portrait Prize. The prize honours the beauty of the hairless head, with proceeds going to the Cancer Council.
Bass Coast Shire Council helped us hold workshops run by Laurel Billington so the locals of Archies Creek could create their “masterpieces” for inclusion in the exhibition. Deb came along in her wheelchair and reminded us so poignantly why we were doing what we were doing.
Deb died on the evening of the last workshop.
The Archies Bald Portrait Prize will be held at the Archies Creek Hall on May 25 & 26 with the grand opening on the evening of 24 May. The Cancer Council’s Biggest Morning Tea will be held at the hall on May 23 and will include a sneak preview of the Archies Bald Portrait Prize. Details www.archiesbaldprize.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook Archies Bald Portrait Prize.
Deb Rielly is Bass Coast Shire’s 2019 Citizen of the Year. She died on April 4, 2019.