Today we are introducing you to Clara, an artist and the small business owner of Lundilimara in Katherine NT.
Clara specialises in a unique combination of contemporary and traditional Indigenous artwork. She takes inspiration from her families dreamtime stories and gives it a modern twist. She creates canvas art, stick dolls and baskets to sell through her small business, Lundilimara. When we chatted, Clara told us about the significance of the crocodile in her family’s history and how dreamtime stories and her own memory of playing with stick dolls as a young girl has inspired her work.
“I am so happy that I met Ruth to have a talk to her about my business and how I am going to go about it. So I am very thankful to Many Rivers for supporting me. I was worried about getting in trouble for selling my art on the street but with a business card I feel that I am a real business. I have started to introduce Ruth and Many Rivers to other people.”
Read more about Clara’s contemporary and traditional art small business, Lundilimara.
Ruth, my Many Rivers business coach, and I have been working together since December 2020. It has not been long. I am from Borroloola in the Northern Territory, which is about an 8 hour drive from Katherine where Ruth is based. I have been staying in Katherine for a couple of months now.
My business is Lundilimara Traditional Art because the crocodile is my family’s totem. There is a dreamtime story about a crocodile which came from the ocean up to the fresh water and it left a rock in the middle of the river. That island today is called Lundilimara.
My work is a mix of modern and traditional Indigenous art. I do canvas paintings and make toy stick dolls and baskets. When I was younger, I used to make the stick dolls for my cousins and sisters because we didn’t have dolls and cars to play with. So, I came up with this. It is my own story of us playing together. I include stick dolls in some of my paintings because they are special to me.
I had been trying to sell my art but I could not sell my art in my community because people were saying that it was too unique and not traditional enough. A friend encouraged me to keep doing my art. Then I came to Katherine to try and start selling my art. I have sold a canvas and four stick dolls already.
I want to make my paintings well known. People like my paintings because they are different. When I first approached Many Rivers, I wanted a business card so that I could prove that I was a real business. It makes me feel professional and authentic when I sell paintings at markets. Ruth came to meet me and my sister Cathy and introduced herself. We sat down in the shade talking for a while and talked about my artwork.
Working With Many Rivers
I was searching business support online and then I came across Many Rivers. I called the Client Support Team and they told me about Ruth and we have been chatting ever since.
Ruth helped me create a business card by first creating a business name and an ABN. Then we took a photo of one of my paintings and designed a business card with Vistaprint.
I am so happy that I met Ruth to have a talk to her about Lundilimara and how I am going to go about my small business. So I am very thankful to Many Rivers for supporting me. I was worried about getting in trouble for selling my art on the street but with a business card I feel that I am a real business. I have started to introduce Ruth and Many Rivers to other people.
We are starting to plan for a Many Rivers loan. I might need one to buy some new paints and canvases because they are quite expensive.
Finding somewhere to do my artwork and having someone to support me. Sourcing acrylics paints in Katherine can be expensive so we are looking to find some cheaper ones in Darwin so that I can make a profit on my paintings.
My first sales made me really proud and I am looking forward to doing more. We are going to the new art gallery in Katherine. They have asked if I can hang up some of my work in the gallery. There is demand for my art now because I have to do a piece for the gallery and there is a commission piece to make as well. I have now made 20 stick dolls. I go and collect the wood down by the river and Ruth tells me to be careful because there are crocodiles!
Future Goals for Clara’s Small Business, Lundilimara
I want to teach other community kids and get them to get involved. As they see my success maybe they’ll be encouraged to do this as well. Anyone is welcome, of all colours to make these stick dolls. I had a dream last night that the stick dolls were all over the world!
Thanks Clara for sharing your business journey so far. We are exciting to be joining you on this journey as it continues.
We love to encourage more people to take the first step towards kick starting their small businesses ideas.
Do you want to make your small business dreams a reality? We’re here to support you the whole way.
Please take the Small Business Self Assessment and see if we are right for you.
If you loved reading about Clara’s business journey and would like to read another, meet Robert, a Many Rivers supported client who runs a welding small business and teaches workplace skills to Indigenous school children.