Brisbane SS21 Indigenous Program Recipient: Wulkuraka Designs

We’re shining the light on our Brisbane Indigenous Program recipient for 2021, Wulkuraka Designs!

Owner and artist behind WD, Ailsa Walsh-Davidson has been practising Aboriginal art techniques since she was 5 years old and opened her business in 2013. Her work encompasses her love of the landscape she surrounds herself in and is driven by the strength she gains from her grandparents who were both a part of the stolen generation. Wulkuraka Designs is dedicated to ensuring indigenous stories are heard with a focus on healing through many art forms including painting, beadwork, film making, photography and poetry.

Discover her designs at Finders Keepers Brisbane this October 15-17 at the Exhibition Building Brisbane Showgrounds!

Can you share the journey of Wulkuraka Designs so far and why it is important to you?

I started my personal art journey over twenty years ago, I experimented with different materials and textures. Then in my late 20’s I start Wulkuraka Designs. Wulkuraka means Birds in Trees and my local area where I was raised. I decided to sell my art later in life as lore protocols advise that young people cannot paint stories and sell until they come of age. There are still stories and symbols I cannot paint now in my mid 30’s as I am still too young to paint them. My own creative background is in painting with acrylic and ochre. My practise has developed into graphic design and I now design my own art prints and jewellery. I’ve worked with clay, bark and bush seeds to name a few. I love the touch of different textures and using all my senses to connect back to country. As I am both a fresh water and saltwater lore woman I am able to expand my creative narrative with both my blood clans.

What keeps you inspired and motivated?

My culture and lore, my link to the past and the beautiful spirituality that is in my DNA. I am an Aboriginal Health Worker outside of my art career. Helping my community inspires me to be a better person and that is reflected in my artwork. I have worked with people suffering from social and emotional well-being (mental health) problems. I have worked with mothers to be and families with intergenerational trauma. I was always told I was born a healer, so I applied that to both in my daily interactions with people and in my artwork.

I am the grandchild of the stolen generation. My grandma was taken from Mornington Island to Palm Island and Townsville and my grandfather was taken from Thargomindah to the Deebing Creek Mission in Ipswich and Cherbourg. I have a personal history with intergenerational trauma so art plays a huge role in healing.

Tell us a bit more about commission and collaborative work. What have you worked on and how have you found the process?

I’ve worked with both individuals and large national and international companies. I have worked on healing pieces with mothers who have had miscarriages, to families that want a piece for their home that reflects their life values. I generally send the client an email with ideas, including symbols, colour palettes and if they wish to have other elements included like emu feathers or ochre. It is a symbiotic communication.

What are your hopes for the future of Wulkuraka Designs?

I hope to become an art healer, I wish to take my art to an international level, in collaboration with other First Nation people. Showcase our history and our dreaming by means of education. 

Being your first Finders Keepers what can market-goers expect to discover at your stall?

They can discover beautiful handmade earrings and natural fibre jewellery made with materials collected from country and cleansed with eucalyptus smoke.

Ailsa Walsh is a First Nation artist and Aboriginal Health Worker connected via bloodline and lore to the Lardil Nation on Mornington Island Queensland and Kullili Country in Thargomindah. With family and lore connections to the Yuggera Nation in Ipswich/Brisbane Queensland.

Stay connected with Wulkuraka Designs on Instagram @wulkurakadesigns

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