Meet the sisters behind Tiddas 4 Tiddas: educating at RUSSH Weekend

Tiddas 4 Tiddas RUSSH Weekend

Before you attend a session with Tiddas 4 Tiddas as part of RUSSH Weekend, get to know the inspiring women behind the initiative.

Tiddas 4 Tiddas began in 2018 with two sisters - Gamilaroi / Dunghutti women Marlee and Keely Silva - and a message: because of her we can.

“[It was] inspired by the NAIDOC theme of that year,” explain Marlee and Keely, “Which saw the stories of amazing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women at the forefront of celebration for the first time on such a scale. As we neared a new year and a new theme, we didn’t want to lose the momentum we’d gained and we knew there were still so many amazing stories that hadn’t been spotlighted or told - so we figured we could keep it going ourselves by starting an Instagram page.” 

Tidda’ means sister and since we were two proud Gamilaroi / Dunghutti sisters ourselves, supporting other tiddas out there, the name was a no-brainer.” 

“And we are so proud to be able to continue sharing stories and putting our women at the front every day.”


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Keely and Marlee’s propensity to support, inspire, celebrate and educate goes further than their Instagram page. And as part of the RUSSH Weekend they’re sharing that with RUSSH audiences - with a live art class centred on the notion of storytelling, healing, connection to culture and identity.

Ahead of their RUSSH Weekend session, here Marlee and Keely give us insight into what’s to come. And talk sisterhood, activism and keeping the fires of change burning.


What has stood out in terms of the response to Tiddas 4 Tiddas

Absolutely everything about the unprecedented growth of the Tiddas 4 Tiddas community and its power to make change and support women and girls, stands out to us and shocks us in the most pleasant of ways each day. It was never intended to be more than a side hobby and now it’s a fully fledged business that sees us go out into community to work with the next generation, to have the ability to raise money for other vital initiatives and see stories reach the eyes and ears of literally thousands of people each day. We’re so proud and humbled by this.


How has it been feeling in recent months? 

It has all undeniably been intensified by the goings on of the world related to ‘Black Lives Matter’ in recent weeks and in a lot of ways it feels surreal and there’s more pressure that comes with more awareness of us, but it also drives us to work harder, build more opportunities and keep fighting for change.


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You’ll be hosting an art class led by Keely as part of RUSSH Weekend - please tell us about that ...

Our main game really is storytelling and art is an extension of that. Keely has always used art as a means of healing and therapy, so she’ll be guiding Marlee and those watching through her processes, speaking to the significance for us as Aboriginal people and how it helps with connecting to culture, especially as we’ve seen it help with young people opening up in workshops we’ve run in the past, and also encouraging the audience to follow on by expressing their own stories and identity through painting.


Marlee, you’ve just announced the release of your first book, My Tidda, My Sister. Congratulations. Please tell us more ...

I’m so excited to be able to share with the world My Tidda, My Sister. It’s really just a new evolution of the Tiddas 4 Tiddas community in a more deep-dive and visually beautiful way. It intertwines my own personal experiences, some original poetry, art from Rachael Sarra and the stories of 20 different Aboriginal women aged from 15 to 86. We talk about sisterhood, strength and resilience and it’s a powerful collection suitable for anyone looking for education and inspiration. It will be out in September!


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What else are you both working on for the future?

The biggest goals that lie ahead are continuing to get more out on the ground and into community so we can keep showing the next generation of Indigenous girls what they’re capable of and what they can strive to achieve. We also want to eventually get some merchandise up and running so people can rep the Tiddas 4 Tiddas community IRL! Keely’s big focus moving ahead is also to grow her art business and graduate uni! Whilst, unsurprisingly, Marlee is all hands in going for it with sharing her book with the world!


What do you want to share with the world?

Be kind to one another, call out casual racism and hold on to the passion or fire you have in you now to do better for BIPOC - we are more than a trend and we need your support to make sustainable, systemic change!


RUSSH Weekend - a festival for creative minds - runs on Instagram Live at @russhmagazine from Saturday July 18 to Sunday July 19. Find out more, here.