Sia Rose Walabanda is a Wubulkarra woman whose country Lanŋarra (Howard Island) lies just east of Milingimbi. Sia was born on her mother’s country at Murruŋga, one of the northern islands of the Crocodile islands that include Milingimbi. She grew up with family based at Bodiya, a homeland on Milingimbi island and would spend considerable time on her ŋäṉḏiwäŋa ga märiwäŋa (mother’s country and mother’s mother’s country), including Rapuma island and Yilan on the mainland.
She comes from a strong linage of leaders and artists with her father Raymond Bulumbula, a senior leader for her Wubulkarra clan and also an acclaimed artist with works held in public collections in the US and Australia. Her younger brother Darryl Yatjany is an emerging leader for Wubulkarra and also a dynamic artist for Milingimbi Art and Culture.
Sia is an emerging weaver of considerable skill and artistry. She is noted for her individual style and dynamic range, continually producing unique works that are inspired by her cultural connections and her everyday environment. Despite her dynamism, she has a consistent technical style with a hand that is unmistakable in her works.
Sia was taught and guided in her weaving by many of the women in her family, but especially her märi (mother’s mother) Rosie Bindilbindil. She says she quietly watched her märi work with gunga (pandanus) and balgurr’ (kurrajong bark) from a young age before being encouraged to try herself. First she would help with harvesting and processing the pandanus and eventually was taught to weave both everyday and ceremonial objects.
Sia says she is inspired by everything around her, including both Yolŋu and Balanda (whitefella) creations . “I look around and I take patterns from everywhere – maybe a Balanda mat or something I see in the bush. I’m always thinking.”
Laŋarra (Howard Island)