The women in Jinari Mountain’s family have been making and exhibiting art for at least four generations, she says. “I feel incredibly lucky that I got to learn so much from them and their very multi-medium practices, including ceramics, bronze casting, painting, wood carving, textiles and installation,” Jinari says. Born in Melbourne, she has moved and travelled many times over her life. “I have always mixed with a great variety of unusual people in my life,” she says. “This has also dearly influenced how I view the world, and what I want to express.” 

While Jinari focused on photography early on - and was awarded state prizes during her schooling, she studied at Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science at Monash University. Later she gained a Diploma in Holistic Counselling at the Phoenix Institute. “Having attained several academic awards while at university, including Fellow of the Dean of Science, I still feel that the best thing higher education taught me to do was think!”

Currently based on a 300-acre property near Castlemaine in central Victoria, she has turned to art, and exhibits regularly. Her latest show Terrain, alongside photographer Helene Athanasiadis, runs until March 20 at The Digger’s Store in Campbells Creek, Victoria.

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Which five words best describe you? Archaic, analytical, poetic, untamed, stardust.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? Moving into a studio at Lot 19 Art Space was a great boost to my professional practice. It helped to cement a disciplined practice, gain exposure and a platform, and build confidence. From there I have exhibited as often as possible.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Just keep going. Perfection is not a destination that is attainable, so it is better to let things find an end point trusting that the next time there will be improvements. 

What’s your proudest career achievement? Curating and producing the art festival Moolana Yakama and the exhibition Land-e-scapes.

What’s been your best decision? Having children.

Who inspires you? Mostly it is the people in my life, the ones who are creative and make things happen without the permission of others and without expectation of personal reward. And the ones who have overcome great obstacles and shine. The ones who are motivated by something beyond the material world. Some of my local heroes and dear friends are Yorta Yorta Elder and artist Aunty Rochelle Patten, artist and poet Allison Hamilton (AKA Allis Maun), artist and writer Abbie Heathcote, my friend Carmela Leone. Further afield I have always loved the work of Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keeffe, Hundertwasser, Andy Goldsworthy, Stephen Hawking, Bob Brown, David Suzuki, Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

What are you passionate about? Soil, wild places, love, truth, growth, compassion, living softly on the Earth, biological systems, beauty, my children, creating.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Mary Magdalene. And I would like to go stay with some Siberian reindeer herders.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I would like to learn to play the guitar, or just befriend someone who can play so I can sing along.

What are you reading? Letters and poetry from my pen pal, and Jeannette Winterson's Sexing the Cherry.

images courtesy of jinari mountain; portrait fiona kennaugh