We Are Freo - Janine Browne
Meet Janine Browne. I first stumbled upon her Wisdom of Rose and it became my treasured book always in my bag ready to be picked up at a random page to put things into perspective when life gets a bit overwhelming. Janine doesn’t like to be seen but would rather let her characters do the talking.
Tell us a little about yourself
Artist, Poet and Founder of The Black Dog Project.
Through the mediums of locally crafted books and street art Janine shares a heart-warming collection of characters and their stories that explore the interrelating themes of developing a strong sense of self and place; the acceptance and value of difference; and the role of imaginary friends in our lives to alleviate loneliness and isolation – provide strength and direction.
She describes her creative practice as the transformation of brokenness into something beautiful and strong—and creating engaging ways to share this throughout the community.
What led you to Fremantle?
My husband is a Fremantle ‘local’ and Fremantle has certainly warmly offered me a sense of place and acceptance through its strong sense of inclusiveness and community, and support of my work.
The Fremantle community reassures me that outsiders have something of value to offer too, and are equally deserving of a place. It’s a place that appreciates and opens its heart to art and culture and diversity. It’s like a welcoming island, one that’s surrounded by river, harbor and sea. It’s where you can breathe.
What is the story behind the print?
Robin Small has a presence in Fremantle through the street art, on the walls at Fremantle Art Centre, and a few other locations. He is an outsider who is quietly heroic — and wise and brave in his own life and journey. Which makes him a good fit for the ’We are Freo’ project’s focus on immigration. The brave, big moves people make in search of a better place.
Rose is also a good fit, after all she is a mould breaker and is also present around Fremantle on the street (and in the art centre). She also ‘likes to save the flowers from dying’. Which I interpret as her appreciation for the transformation of things. The saving of things. And Fremantle (particularly the art centre) is a wonderful example of this. From a former (terribly named) Lunatic Asylum with its dark history of the treatment of women and children and those deemed too wilful (Rose would have been taken in for certain), to the sanctuary it is today full of art and music. Where Mothers now bring their babies and children to play within the safety of its walls – and people dance and sing. Fremantle is a place that has welcomed and transformed the lives of many, in a good way, throughout history.
Favourite spots in Fremantle?
Definitely the Fremantle Art Centre and surrounds. I also love watching the movement of the ships and activity in the port. Bathers Beach for sunsets and walking through the adjoining bush that feels like being on Rottnest. I also like walks with my dog on the North Side of the river. The beautiful white beach, the
Rottnest feel — and the local pod of dolphins.
Photography by @raquelarand.a