Janine McAullay Bott is one of Australia’s foremost exponents of weaving and bush sculpture with her work in public and private collections all over the world. She is a Noongar woman with her Aboriginal heritage coming from her mother’s side of the family. Her family roots are in Katanning and the outer surrounds of Wagin. The youngest of seven siblings, Janine was only a baby when her father passed away in Wagin. While her artistic beginnings matured overseas, she honed her skills while caring her mother in Perth. It is her parents’ and grandparents’ memory and culture she embodies in her work.
My ambition through my art and my heart is to convey to the public the beauty of the Noongar peoples of the South West, my mother’s people, my ancestors. My mum lived until she was 84 years of age, she was my soul mate. When looking into the weave you can see the spirits of the native animals and the Noongars they represent, depending on what is in your heart. I used to watch my mother when she looked at a weave, I tell her the story, and she can see the spirit (Jenark). I believe it makes her feel good. The connection to the land is tangible for her, because the weaves are made from the bush, her garden, and our memories, of the old people.
Weaving is important to me because, I struggled for years, not knowing my worth. I inherit the Noongar background from my mother (Rena Mcaullay Farmer), and the Irish from my father (Cecil Percival Mcaullay). Weaving gives me my place, a vehicle, to show respect, to my mother’s people. The weaves are uncomplicated, they reach out to people and are easily associated to the land, its native animals and Noongar Culture.
This year’s NAIDOC theme to means respect for my mother, who gave me life and fought hard to keep the family together. Because of her tenacity and forward thinking I have this creative gift to weave, a strong work ethic and Indigenous values. I remember all the days she lived, not just the day she died. My great grandmother (Emily Coyne Farmer) was a midwife and tanner who made beautiful kangaroo skin rugs. Her work ethic and social justice past down to my mother and then myself. The pride and strength she carried with her, remains with me always.
The opportunities for Aboriginal women moving forward are many and in all fields of life. These opportunities can be achieved by listening, sharing knowledge, forward thinking, motivation, taking the opportunities when they come, knowing what your good at and always value your work and yourself.