WINNER - Beautiful Farewells Funeral Director Award

Judge: Diane Luccitti said “People who are dying worry they will be forgotten. The Beautiful Farewells Award is awarded for how we honour our dead and keep them in our memory. I chose this work, Sinililled silmadele (Blue Flowers For Eyes), because it represents a lesser known group of freedom fighters from the Baltic Wars, relatives of the artist Lachlan Bell. In judging this work, it spoke to me in a way that I find hard to describe. However, Lachlan's ability to honour distant relatives from almost 80 years ago ensures that they are not forgotten.”


Sinililled silmadele (Blue Flowers For Eyes), 2023

recycled white calsil bricks, endemic flora plantings, soil



Sinililled silmadele (Blue Flowers For Eyes) is an ephemeral cenotaph placed in dialogue with the Estonian Niche Walls at Rookwood. Comprised of salvaged bricks and plantings of endemic flora, the monument references a memorial in Ehmja, Estonia for my grandfather’s brothers who died in 1946 fighting as Metsavennad (Forest Brothers). While their bodies are lost - their legacies remain firmly embedded in the land. The garden honours these sacrifices made by resistance fighters who rally against the interconnected and rhizomatic struggles for sovereignty, self-determination and decolonisation.

About the Artist


Lachlan Bell has Estonian ancestory and lives on Wallumedegal Land in the north west of Sydney, NSW.





My name is Lachlan Bell and my work is titled Sinililled Silmadele, which translates to “Blue Flowers For Eyes” in Estonian. My work is in dialogue to the existing Estonian Niche Walls found at Rookwood and forms an ongoing conversation revisiting the notion of the cenotaph, a traditionally ‘non-functional’ monument erected in honour of a person or group of people whose remains cannot be located.

The central wall features a large entrenched installation resembling both a toppled wall and a garden constructed of salvaged calsil (calcium silicate) bricks and 32 varieties of endemic flowering plants grown and tended to by my grandmother, mother and myself since July 5th, 2023. The blue, pink, and purple flowers, both in the title and work, derive from an ancient Estonian regilaul or runo song titled Ema haual or “Mothers Grave” where two orphans visit their parents graves, asking for them to rise and guide them — but they can’t, their corporeal form having transformed into the land and flowers above.

This work exists within the context of the ongoing war occurring in Ukraine and the 32nd anniversary of Estonian Re-Independence and arrived from the experience of visiting the mälestusmärk, or “memory monument”, of my family’s relatives who fought as resistance fighters known as Metsavennad, or “Forest Brothers”. The bunker, destroyed in 1946, lies buried within the depths of a mosquito-ridden birch forest in Ehmja, West Estonia, engulfed by patches of metsmaasikad, “wild strawberries”, and mustikad, “bilberries” or “wild blueberries”. This recording is currently taking place here. I’m standing atop the memory grave of my relatives, August Lehtsalu, and also taking place 1,300 kilometres north of an active war zone.

This fourth wall similarly lies within the landscape; a rangers grave pocketed by verdant niches. 32 holes representing 32 years since the restoration of Independence in Estonia from Soviet occupation. Enveloped by memories and legacies of the sacrifices made long ago, the installation is permitted to flourish and decay, ephemeral by nature depending on the care and upkeep tended to it. At the end of this exhibition, the plants and bricks used to construct the work will be repurposed and implemented into the physical architecture at the Estonian Niche Walls at Rookwood. Collaborating with the Sydney Estonian Lutheran St. John's Congregation, a series of talgud, or “working bees”, will be held to help rejuvenate the cemetery and create a connection between younger generations and their ancestors.

Sinililled silmadele acts not just as a personal memorial to the Metsavennad and my family, but for the freedom fighters, guerilla warriors and resistance armies of the past and their ancestors present. Interconnected struggles of land sovereignty, self-determination, and decolonisation continue to this day. Violence continues to be embedded in the earth and legacies, rhizomatic and subterranean. These memories are shared across generations, dispersed across seas, transcending time and space.


[Excerpt from Ema haual (Mothers Grave) sung by Lachlan]

“Ei või tõusta, tütär noori (I cannot wake up, daughter, my young one),

muru kasvab mulla piale (the grass grows over the soil),

arueinä aua piale (the meadow hays on the grave),

sinililled silma piale (blue flowers/violets over my eyes),

kullerkupud kulmu piale (globeflowers over my brow).


Oh mu ella memmekene (Oh, my gentle mama),

ma teen sirbist vikatikse (I will make a scythe from a sickle),

niidan muru mulla pialta (I will mow the grass off the soil),

arueina aua pialta (the meadow hay off your grave),

sinililled silma pialta (the violets from your eyes),

kullerkupud kulmu pialta (the marigolds from your brow).

Tõuse siis, mu memmekene (Then get up, my dear mama),

tõuse tütärt õpetama (get up and teach your daughter)!”