Juanella McKenzie artworks displayed at National Museum of Scotland | Photos

Juanella's children Ngarlaa, Ngayan and Ngintaka often help their mother with her art. Photo: Supplied

Juanella's children Ngarlaa, Ngayan and Ngintaka often help their mother with her art. Photo: Supplied

Juanella McKenzie has been painting nearly all her life, and now the Nambucca Heads based artist has reached a new high in her career after her culturally inspired painting on a piece of bark has been displayed in the National Museum of Scotland.

"I'm so happy; it's a great honour, the painting depicts the story of my people the Adnymathanha of the Flinders Ranges," she said.

"Bark is never the same; each piece is different; I wanted to paint something unique, rather than use a traditional canvas.

"I asked my husband Micheal for his blessing to use the bark because it's from Gumbaynggiirr homelands, we both signed the back with our thumbprints by mixing emu fat and charcoal."

Artistic pursuits have been a lifelong passion for Juanella; starting from an early age, the proud indigenous woman fondly recalls learning her craft from family members.

"I used to sneak out of school and go to my aunties and learn to paint, the school always knew where to find me," she said.

"Some of my happiest memories are of those times, learning about our culture from the elders."

Many artists develop an attachment to their work, and for Juanella, this particular piece has a deeper meaning for her, and her people.

"My mother, Regina Mckenzie, is one of the elders who started the campaign against the plans to create a nuclear waste dump on our homelands, a human rights case has been launched but is still pending," Juanella said.

"The Scotland Times and the BBC have written and shown stories about it; they gave her a voice. Gifting the piece to Scotland was a way of saying thanks, that's why I didn't accept any payment for it. I must admit I was a little sad when I sent it away though; I know I won't ever see it again."

I use as many natural materials as possible, emu fat, dirt, charcoal, a lot of the same materials our ancestors used.

Juanella McKenzie

Aside from achieving international fame, the talented local artist is currently in the process of creating her own family business called 'Woven Dreaming'.

"Our entire family is artistic, Micheal and our three kids are very talented, we hope to make our hobby into a family business, this is what we love to do," Juanella said.

"It isn't about money; I create art because I love it, and it's a way to honour my people and our culture."

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The majority of Juanella's works are created using traditional techniques used by her ancestors, and this has seen them displayed in Australia and overseas.

"I use as many natural materials as possible, emu fat, dirt, charcoal, a lot of the same materials our ancestors used," she said.

"We are currently in the saltwater-freshwater exhibition at the Port Macquarie Glass House; it's a travelling exhibition which will head to the Manning Regional Gallery, the Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery and the Yarrawarra Aboriginal Gallery in the next few months.

"I've also had my paintings in the national museum of Australia, which was acquired when I was 18."

Anyone interested in buying some of Juanella McKenzie's artworks can head over to the website www.wovendreaming.com.au, she can be contacted at juanellamckenzie3@gmail.com or phoned on 0423 390 365.

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