Coffs Coast Focus - i118

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We caught up with Melissa Greenwood, who is a part of the artistic mother and daughter duo “Miimi and Jiinda”. We found out where they drew their inspiration from and how important their Indigenous culture is to their work - and also about their phenomenal success in recent months!


an you tell us a bit about yourself and when you became interested in art? I am a mother of two beautiful boys - my four year old's name is Harper Malakai and I am pregnant, so my other baby is on the way. My amazing supportive partner is Abraham. We all live in Hyland Park, NSW, which is in our beautiful Gumbaynggirr country. I am deeply connected to my culture, and I live and breathe it with every fibre of my being. It translates into my art, my parenting, my passions and my dreams. I have always been very passionate about Indigenous justice, which led me towards studying legal studies at high school then a Diploma of Justice Studies for Aboriginal and TSI people. I was then inspired to complete a Degree in Critical Criminology at QUT in Queensland. These in-depth studies led me into working for Aboriginal communities for over eleven years in various roles. These ranged from case management for Stolen Generation survivors, to leading national Indigenous programs at the AFL, and then most recently working as the National Programs Manager at Culture is Life. Almost two years ago “Miimi and Jiinda ”was born, and I now run my own business, where I can fully support my deepest passions of sharing and celebrating my culture. What made you start collaborating with your mum, Lauren Jarrett? Mum has always inspired and guided me to



create art, weave, sing, dance and do anything linked with my creative and cultural heritage. I have painted alongside Mum since I was a young child, but I never really took it seriously until Mum came to live with me when I had my firstborn son. It was a beautiful time warp, where we delved into such creative projects, and it was during that time I felt inspired to take my art more seriously. Not long after, “Miimi and Jiinda” was born. You've been featured on 2019's The Block finale, as well as in Frankie magazine. What are some other career highlights you have? Yes, we feel so blessed. The Block and Frankie mag were an absolute highlight for us. We were pinching ourselves! We were also featured in Peachy Keen's French magazine and have some other pretty big contracts underway, which we can’t disclose unfortunately! But we will be able to soon - so definitely stay tuned. We are also launching “Miimi and Jiinda The Label”, which is our art used for textiles in a clothing range. That will be later in the year, so keep an eye out! You create some incredibly beautiful pieces. Where do you draw your inspiration from? My artwork is definitely derived from my beautiful strong matriarchs and the inspiring lives they lived, even though they experienced so much trauma. On my Mum's side, my beautiful nanny had 14 children, who were all taken from her in the Stolen Generation. My

Mum was one of them, being taken by the government at nine years old and forced to live in an orphanage and be punished by nuns for being anything "Indigenous". They used to make Mum scrub the "black" off her skin and beat her if she spoke language. Apart from the trauma they endured, they always carried a very strong resilience. They had big beautiful hearts - so generous, loving and giving. They were so deeply passionate about their culture. Gumbaynggirr people are known as the "sharing people", and it is innately within us. These values, principles and passions translate onto canvas in my art. We have a rich, beautiful culture with ancient dreaming and creation stories, which we are inspired by daily. Originally from the Gumbaynggirr area, you've seen some phenomenal success with your artwork. What advice do you have for other artists in this area? Just keep on painting every day, find a style that is unique to you, and take up any opportunity that comes your way! Push yourself out of your comfort zone, connect with your ancestors in spirit, and ask for guidance and support. Paint your surroundings, and get inspired by our beautiful Gumbaynggirr country. Never give up and stay true to you - walk and speak your truth always with love and kindness. Photos by @barefootwanderingphotography Contact us on @miimiandjiinda Thanks Melissa.