A bilby woven from palm fronds and sporting pine nut eyes won the Wandjuk Marika Three-Dimensional Memorial Award at this years 26th Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Awards held in Darwin earlier this month.
Fibre textile artist and bush sculptor Janine McAullay Bott uses palm fronds from the Queen Palm tree to create extraordinary weaves which bear her connection to her Nyoongar culture and convey her family stories.
Weaving is part of my Nyoongar heritage explains Bott my great grandmother would make brooms to sweep the sand and there were things like fish traps, bowls and bush safes.
Born in Perth with family connections in the south west around Katanning and Wagin, Bott’s second marriage led her to move to Hawaii in 1986 where her newfound friends introduced her to weaving. ˜’Once I started there was no stopping me. My indigenous side just took off and I now weave almost daily says Bott.
Intertwined palm fronds form works which include small bush rats whose backs are made from Coolabah tree seed pods (also used for birds beaks). A brumby, stingray and a life size dugong are just some of the creatures that make up her portfolio. Fish traps, seals, even a camel is included, although in the main she sticks to native animals. Various shapes and sizes and baskets, some with twig or branch handles add a functional touch to her work.
People of significance in her life inspire many of Bott’s weaves. The beautiful sculpture of In My Mother’s Arms which depicts Janine as a baby being held by her mother, sadly now deceased, a person of great influence and significance in Janine’s life now sits in the WA Museum collection as a part of a body of work recently acquired.
Winning the award in Darwin for me feels like a new beginning. I could feel my mother’s presence and felt she was with me, very proud says Bott, who explained that when her mother looked at her weaves she would say she could see the spirit “ Jenark “ in them adding It is very important to me that my weaves introduce me to my people as an artist and a person of Nyoongar heritage.
In a career spanning over 20 years, Janine has exhibited in Hawaii, California, Art Paris, the Sydney Aboriginal and Oceanic Art Fair and has received numerous commendations and awards. Her works can be found in the Holmes Ã¡ Court collection, the Kerry Stokes collection, the Berndt Museum, the Bunbury Regional Art Gallery, the Centre for Indigenous History and the Arts, and the WA Museum’s Indigenous Art Collection.
Bott’s work will also be included in Menagerie: Contemporary Indigenous Sculpture a two year touring exhibition which has its grand opening in Sydney in early September and at which she will be present demonstrating and discussing her work.
Janine McAullay Bott regularly exhibits in Perth through her representative gallery Artitja Fine Art based in South Fremantle.
(In October, Janine will be one of two artists featured in the Baskets and Birds exhibition alongside Kukula McDonald from Papunya in the Central Desert “ separate media release available)