Juanella McKenzie sold her first painting to a Dutch tourist at the Old Ghan Restaurant in Hawker when she was just 12 years old.

Since then, the Adnyamathanha / Luritja artist has continued developing her art to the point where she exhibited 8 times in 2019 alone and has just been announced as the recipient of Country Arts SA’s professional development award Breaking Ground, for 2021.

Juanella will receive $10,000 to develop a body of work for a solo exhibition which will be held in Adelaide’s Light Square Gallery during next year’s SALA Festival, and an additional $5000 towards a mentorship opportunity over the next year.

The artwork she develops will be connected to her culture, land and ancestors, as she will be accessing recordings of her grandfather, a senior law maker, who died well before she was born.

Her family’s involvement in a long battle to save their homeland from a Nuclear Waste Dump being built nearby will also heavily influence her work as it impacted her whole life, with cultural continuation coming to a halt during that time.

Image: Juanella McKenzie with her 3 daughters at a recent exhibition opening

Header image: Juanella McKenzie at sacred watering hole. Image by husband Michael Donovan