The stories we don’t tell

Negotiating aspects of identity

Featured in

  • Published 20180423
  • ISBN: 9781925603323
  • Extent: 264pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

EVERY MORNING I would press my nose against the glass and try to imagine what this place could be. A bare room with white walls and beautifully polished floorboards in a shopfront next to a laundry and a bus stop. As I waited there for the last of the three buses to my new school, I saw pictures on the walls which were routinely replaced by others. Nothing else changed. What was this place for? What did the simple, hand-lettered name on the window-glass mean? There was no furniture, nothing obviously for sale, nothing to indicate a function. I was nine years old, and I had no idea that public places existed for experiencing and discussing art.

My new school was in Woollahra, in Sydney’s wealthy eastern suburbs, where for two years I studied evolution, ancient history, advanced science and mathematics, and art theory and practice. It was worlds apart from Eastlakes Public School, then part of the state’s Disadvantaged Schools Program. Being short of teachers, I’d been enlisted from kindergarten to help teach the newly arrived refugee children English. There, I’d seen memories of trauma emerge from reluctant little faces, which is what happens when children are able at last to speak to other children. In later years, as I continued to work too quickly through my lessons, I was asked to work with the other children to write and stage plays, put together shows of our drawings, and make zines with an old gestetner machine.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

If you are an educator or student wishing to access content for study purposes please contact us at

Share article

About the author

Esther Anatolitis

Esther Anatolitis is a writer, facilitator and critic with an abiding interest in how art creates public space in all its forms. She has...

More from this edition

Re-imagining Parramatta

EssayTHERE ARE JACKHAMMERS everywhere. A new Parramatta is emerging out of the rubble, seeking to make real its tag line: ‘Australia’s next great city’. Thickets...

Local spirits

FictionDECEMBER NIGHTS IN the mountains of the Abruzzo are long. People get cabin-fever in these snow-bound high villages on the Adriatic coast of central...

The gherkin jar

FictionOUR FOOTSTEPS ECHO as we climb the stairs. My grandma holds my hand. Shhhhh – be quiet! My grandpa is sleeping. The third-floor flat, the heavy wooden...

Stay up to date with the latest, news, articles and special offers from Griffith Review.