Noongar artist Janine McAullay Bott weaves magic for Sculptures

Noongar bush sculptor Janine McAullay Bott uses palm fronds, seed pods and other native materials to weave inspired works of art.

One of her creations will feature among those of 70 international artists whose interpretive displays transform the Cottesloe shore each March for Perth’s annual ‘Sculptures by the Sea’ event.

“I like to take the bush and borrow from the bush and turn it into something that belongs in the bush, like a native animal, like the bilbies and the bandicoots,” McAullay Bott says.

“I try to bring attention to things that are in danger, like the Corroborree frog.”

McAullay Bott’s contribution to this year’s Sculptures – a woven sculpture of a fish trap — represents a good catch and community sharing. Inside a small foal will represent Indigenous youth.

A self-taught artist who won the Wandjuk Marika 3D Memorial Award at the prestigious Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards in 2009, McAullay Bott says the stories of her late mother Rena inspire her work.

She began weaving in Hawaii where she lived for many years. Upon returning to WA in the late 1990s to be her mother’s carer, McAullay Bott’s creations took on the lives of the totems and other stories her mother would talk to her about.

Her mother’s totem was the frill-neck lizard and she jokes that her Irish father’s was the three leaf clover.

“I say that the old people gave me a gift later in life,” she says.

“It’s my way of remembering them and of keeping the stories so that people know good people came from here.”

McAullay Bott finds the materials for her sculptures by fossicking in the bush and kerbside during street green collections.

“A lot of people know what I do and will throw things over the fence,” she says.

  • Sculptures by the Sea’ will run from March 3 to 20 on Cottesloe Beach, Perth.

By Wendy Caccetta

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