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School celebrates art of children whose lives were lost too soon

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Paintings by Elisa Manrique, who was 11 when she died, and her brother, Martin, will be displayed in an exhibition by their school, St Lucy’s in Wahroonga, one year after their tragic deaths. PHOTO: St Lucy’s School

One year after the deaths of Elisa and Martin Manrique, their family and former school community are honouring their mother’s wish to have them recognised as artists.

Their parents Maria and Fernando died along with their two children last October in a domestic tragedy that devastated their family and friends and shocked the wider community.

The children were students of St Lucy’s school, Wahroonga, a Catholic primary school for children with disabilities.

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Maria had expressed a wish that their evident gift for art be shared and celebrated.

PHOTO: St Lucy’s School

Principal David Raphael says the school community has worked together to create a legacy for the students and their mother, and “to leave a trace of their lives in our school”.

“Eli and Martin were happy, affectionate, bright students who often delighted their teachers with their capacity for learning, their curiosity and their abilities across all aspects of their education,” he said.

A variety of the children’s artworks will feature at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney during November, and then tour various locations across NSW.

St Lucy’s was inundated with offers of support from the wider community after the tragedy, and as a result the school and its parents and friends body have also set up a bursary.

The principal of St Lucy’s School, Wahroonga, David Raphael. PHOTO: St Lucy’s School

The Eli and Martin Bursary will provide St Lucy’s families experiencing financial hardship the opportunity to access after school and holiday creative arts programs and excursions, and also contribute to the Creative Arts Scholarship Program, says David.

A St Lucy’s Art Studio will also be dedicated to honour Elisa and Martin, while an artisan-made bench will be dedicated to their mother, Maria.

“The inspiration for the bench came from Maria’s fellow parents who, as her close friends, chose materials to reflect her integrity, strength and beauty,” said David.

The students, staff, and families have been well-supported and guided by the wider community, neighbouring schools, and psychologists through the past year, he added.

The school has provided extra counselling support during the week of the anniversary.

Art exhibition details will be posted on the school’s website and Facebook page.

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