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Byron Shire
September 17, 2021

Interview With Contemporary Aboriginal artist Niah Juella Mcleod

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Niah: Dot Experience

Niah: Dot Experience

Contemporary Aboriginal artist Niah Juella Mcleod is a descendant of the Monero, Wandandian, and Yuin people from southeastern Australia. She is the daughter of artist Kathrin Sharp and Aboriginal activist, poet, healer, musician and Yuin elder Bobby Mcleod, and Niah’s works tell of stories passed down and unique to her history. A fine dot artist, Niah began painting as a form of meditation, suggested by her mother, as a way to relieve anxiety. Niah first exhibited her works in public in 2015. This meditative process is evident in her works and explores her spiritual and physical connection with place and people. After a stint in Sydney as a model, the girl who grew up in Bangalow and who lives here now with her young family will be exhibiting a stunning body of work that further illustrates she has an incredibly promising career ahead of her as a fine dot artist, after having won the Young Artist category in the University of New South Wales Paddington Art Prize (2017). This is her first solo show!

You talk about the meditative process in your work. Is that part of the repetitive pattern making?

I see it as a meditative process in the way it takes you to another headspace, not necessarily the repetitive pattern.

How do you feel when you are painting?

I love it. I wish I could do it all day every day.

Did anyone teach you to paint?

I am self-taught but it runs in the family, it’s in my blood. I find it hard to explain.

How do you paint? Do you have an easel; do you have canvas on the floor or wall? Your work is so contained and beautiful. Does it take restraint? Do you ever make a massive mistake?

Thank you for the kinds words! I paint wherever I get the chance to, if it be on a bed or on the floor… I do like to paint on the floor.

My paintings take no restraint at all… the complete opposite actually! It’s all flow. I always make huge mistakes; I have two kiddies so the mistakes come more often these days because fine intricate artworks and a 2-year-old don’t mix that well!

How has having such a powerful artist mother informed you? Is it challenging to find your own space quite separate from her?

Not at all. She is inspiring and we are two completely different types of artists. She is very colourful and can draw, paint, and create amazing animals and faces and I couldn’t draw a fish to save my life!

As a mark maker, what mark does Niah want to make on the world?

I think I’ve made my mark already. I have brought two beautiful humans into the world and if I can encourage them to be as kind, strong, educated independent humans as they can possibly be I would feel like I have played my part in the world.

Why did you choose to exhibit at Ninbella?

Grant is amazing… and it’s only fitting that his gallery happens to be in my hometown! So it’s a double bonus!

When you are in Bangalow don’t miss the quietly powerful work of this young woman who is sure to make a big name for herself in the art world.

7–21 December at Ninbella in Bangalow.

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