Woven Culture: Juanita Mulholland

If you love plants, you’ll know there’s always more to them than meets the eye. For Bardi artist Juanita Mulholland, coming to know native plants and their uses through weaving, sculpting and eco-dyeing, has helped her find herself, and reconnect with her heritage.

Juanita grew up on Yawuru and Bardi/Djawi country in northern Western Australia, with her feet in the red earth and her heart filled with ancestral stories of the land. But after moving to Victoria to be with her father’s family, which she describes gently as ‘a bit of a sad story’, Juanita grew up feeling out of step – as though she didn’t belong in either mainstream or Aboriginal culture, despite the latter being an ever-present reality in her life.

That feeling, followed by the birth of her two children, prompted Juanita to want to reconnect with her heritage. She wanted her kids to engage with their Aboriginality, so Juanita began taking them to an Indigenous playgroup.