Home' Scoop Homes and Art : Insite 24 Autumn 2010 Contents 90 INSITE AUTUMN
"I'd just returned to Perth from Hawaii
to look after Mum and she had a palm tree
branch in the garden that had fallen off.
She asked if I could make her totem (animal
spirit) with it, so I did. Now, since Mum
died, I've put a piece of her hair in the heart,
so it really is her totem."
Janine looks back on her 13 years in
Hawaii with great affection. She moved
there to be with her husband and came back
with a whole new journey of creativity and
self-discovery. Although she's quick to point
out her Indigenous culture was always part
of her life, she admits it was that workshop
-- where she learnt to make baskets from the
branches of a polka vine -- that reignited a
connection to her people that will live on
forever in her weaves. I
Janine is represented by Artitja Fine Art Gallery
(08) 9336 7787, artitja.com.au. She is currently
working towards a solo exhibition at Melbourne's
Alison Kelly Gallery in April. e Menagerie
exhibition will be at the Western Australian
Museum from October 30 to
January 16, 2011.
Janine uses a variety of twigs, vines, nuts
and fronds -- mostly from palm trees and
agaves -- to fashion the delicate fibre objects.
Once she's gathered the materials (family
and neighbours are her main suppliers), she
bundles them up and soaks them in water, so
they're malleable enough for weaving. e fact
that the branches remain completely untreated
is what gives the figures their natural beauty.
e actual weaving process is simple and
unstructured, often seeing three or four layers
for support: " e method is basically
anything you go over has to go under,"
Janine says. "I don't stick to a definite
pattern, it's very free. And I think that
comes from my upbringing. I don't like
anything that's fenced off or constricting.
It's important for me that people know the
weave holds up the weave -- nothing else."
When she was just three months old,
Janine lost her Irish father to an
unexpected illness. With few rights and no
financial means of supporting the family,
her mother Rena -- a Nyoongar woman
(from the south-west corner of WA from
Geraldton to Esperance) -- was forced to
send her children to foundling homes and
orphanages throughout Perth. Although
they were reunited some years later, Janine
says hers was a very fractured and regimented
upbringing, far removed from the cultural
practices and traditions of her mother's people.
" e weaves are my way of reconnecting
the stories that were lost during our
separation," she says. "If dad hadn't died,
we would have been raised between Perth
and the country because Nyoongar people
travelled here often. We would have grown
up with a lot more freedom and had a stronger
understanding of our Indigenous heritage."
Janine is surprisingly at peace chatting
about her past in the lounge of her Becking-
ham home. Her attention drifts occasionally
to the memory-laden walls, where family
photos, special ornaments and woven pieces
of history come together like a patchwork quilt.
Most of the weaves, she tells me, are
dedicated to her family. Rena -- Protective
Mother (Frill Necked Lizard), which is touring
nationally with the Menagerie: Contemporary
Indigenous Sculpture, was one of the pieces
made in honour of her mum.
"I don't stick to a definite pattern, it's very free.
And I think that comes from my upbringing. I don't
like anything that's fenced off or constricting."
ANIMAL FRIENDS: (left) Black Swan -- Kuldjak is one of Janine's most recent works,
taking prime spot outside her Beckingham home. (above) Koala and Baby -- Kubang
Nhoba. (bottom) Rena -- Protective Mother (Frill Necked Lizard) is a piece special
to Janine and a piece of her late mother's hair resides in the heart of the work.
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