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First Nations artist Emma Hollingsworth to showcase at The Big Design Market in Melbourne

Phoebe Blogg -

Known in the arts community for vibrantly hued projects which reflected her heritage, culture, and story, First Nations artist and proud Kaanju, Kuku Ya’u, Girramay woman, Emma Hollingsworth will be part of Melbourne’s Big Design Market in 2024.

Hollingsworth is thrilled to have her business, Mulganai, participate in the popular Melbourne market for the first time.

“I’ve done a handful of small-scale markets in my time but nothing this big and certainly not as the feature artist. I’m super excited about how the team is going to display my art. They’re a very creative bunch and we’ve had a lot of fun thinking of ways to make the art bring that wow factor,” she said.

“Last year was pretty crazy so I took a few weeks off at the beginning of this year so I could rest and recharge. I was going through a bit of a creative block where I couldn’t even pick up a paint brush and I knew I needed to close my studio doors for a bit and rest. It was just what I needed apparently because now I’m back and better than ever. I’ve been working pretty solidly on several projects I’ve also secretly been working on a large body of work that I’m releasing soon. I can’t wait to share more on that soon.”

First Nations artist Emma Hollingsworth. (Image: Instagram @mulganai)


Boasting 200 exhibitors from across Australia, an array of food and wine experiences, an art installation and a fashion showcase, The Big Design Market is back with its second ‘Almost Winter’ event.

Visitors attending the market will have the pleasure of being immersed in Hollingsworth’s beautiful designs with a major installation of her work hanging from the great dome of the Royal Exhibition Building.

Hollingsworth’s work will also be spread across the market's dedicated kids area which has been designed by Hollingsworth, complete with a 16m long artwork across the back for an immersive environment designed to encourage imagination and creativity.

Children of all ages are welcome to engage in some downtime with colouring-in cut-outs of Hollingsworth's animal totems, the saltwater crocodile and turtle.

As a Kaanju, Kuku Ya’u, Girramay woman who grew up in tropical far north Queensland, Hollingsworth's works speak to her heritage, culture, and her own story, painting with vivid colours as a reflection of her youthfulness and the way she sees the world.

“I paint about the Land and waterways, the animals, the peoples, our traditions, and I paint about how all of those things are intrinsically connected,” she said.  

The Big Design Market at the Royal Exhibition Building. (Image: Blake Walshe)


When speaking on the opportunity to showcase at Big Design Market, the young artist also shares that she is looking forward to exhibiting her work in her hometown of Naarm.

“Every year The Big Design Market has a feature artist whose work is displayed in loud, creative ways throughout the market and the city they’re in. Think giant cardboard cutouts of elements within the artworks, to huge swaths of fabric with the artwork printed on it, floating from the ceiling. This immediately drew my attention because I love exhibiting my art in funky ways,” she said.  

“My art will also be featured on trams, billboards and buses throughout Naarm in the lead-up to the market which I’m super excited about. I was born in Naarm so seeing my art all over my birthplace will be pretty surreal. I will also have my own stall at the market where I’ll be selling my new original artworks, prints, notebooks and other merchandise. If you’re in Naarm, come say hello."

Kid’s Area at THe Big Design Market. (Image: Blake Walshe)


With a curation of ethically-made ceramics, jewellery, homewares, clothing, innovative lifestyle products, pet wares and more, the Market has something for everyone.

Hollingsworth has several projects in the pipeline for the rest of 2024.

“I love to stay busy and am always planning and creating. I have some exciting things dropping in the next couple of months, along with my new collection. I’m also working with some companies to display my artwork in different ways in public spaces. This is so important to me because I want to see and feel that mob are being represented when we’re out in these big, popular spaces, especially where we are a minority in these spaces, I can’t share any details just yet though so stay tuned,” she said.


The Big Design Market will run from May 24-26 at The Royal Exhibition Building, in Carlton, Victoria.

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