Melissa Greenwood grew up in a ‘huge Aboriginal family’ (hailing from the Gumbaynggirr, Dunghutti, and Bundjalung tribes), and was raised to always be proud of her culture.
‘Because of the past injustices that happened to our people, including my family, I have always been very passionate about creating change and helping wider Australia to see the richness of our culture, which is alive and thriving today,’ Melissa says.
She has been painting with her mum, Lauren Jarrett (who was part of the Stolen Generation), since she was a young girl, as a way to share, heal and connect with their culture.
This shared passion in art, ancestry and Country eventually led them to launch their business, Miimi and Jiinda, and has continued to inspire their ongoing work together; from the ancient techniques, colours and patterns, to the brand’s name itself.
‘Miimi and Jiinda means Mother and Sister, and is representative of our strong matriarchal lineage. We come from a line of resilient women who inspire us daily and have instilled in us pride, passion, and determination,’ Melissa explains.
The pair’s evolving culture and family stories are at the heart of everything they create. Their incredible artworks can take anywhere from one day to three months to complete, depending on the size, medium, technique, and the story they’re telling through the painting.
‘Sometimes an artwork will just flow out of you, so guided by our ancestors, and other times it is something that has to be created and told over a longer period of time. So both the physical factors, and emotional/spiritual factors play a part in how long a piece can take to create,’ Melissa says.
Their intricate and colourful designs are available as ‘wearable art’ via their new clothing and homeware label; Ochre by Miimi & Jiinda. Melissa says their collaboration with Adairs, and having their artwork feature on Channel 9’s The Block are among some of their proudest moments.
‘I think what we are most proud of, though, is what we have built together and how we have been able to give back to our mob – it’s at the centre of everything we do. We have been able to donate to Indigenous projects that we are passionate about, putting money back into our community, as well as been able to hire Aboriginal staff, and give opportunities to our local mob.’