The earth, the land, the stars, it’s where we have come from and it’s where we are going, that’s pretty inspiring for me.
Niah Mcleod is a contemporary artist of Yuin, Wandandian and Monero decent. Her paintings are purely intuitive based, of moments and feeling, a complete mediative process that leaves viewers to be hypnotised by her intricate and precise detail.
Residing in picturesque Byron Shire, we caught up with Mcleod on a spring morning in her home studio, where she was completing her original artwork in collaboration with luxury jewellery Tiffany & Co. Signature Tiffany Blue spirals and entwines under layers of detail, “For me it’s been really special as I’m able to explore a colour palate that I usually don’t get to play with.”
Here we chat with Mcleod on her creative process, personal heroes, her two children and why family goes hand in hand with the most courageous thing she’s ever done. See the full interview and shoot lensed by photographer Jess James below.
What is the first thing we should know about you?
I’m of Yuin, Wandandian, Monero decent. My paintings are of moments / a feeling... not always stories (I get asked what the story is for almost every painting). I have two children and a partner and they know not to talk to me before coffee.
What inspires you and your art?
My kids and my paintings help me learn my native language, as if they are my own personal flash cards. The earth, the land, the stars, it’s where we have come from and it’s where we are going, that’s pretty inspiring for me.
Tell us about the piece you’re working on…
I have just finished this piece for Tiffany & Co. For me it’s been really special as I’m able to explore a colour palate that I usually don’t get to play with. It’s been an absolute joy to paint and one that just flowed through out. I’m having a little bit of time off then I start on 10 beautiful Emu eggs! I’m really excited.
What is your creative process…
I am someone that dives right in… If I’m painting a commission I usually have an idea of what I’m doing, though if I’m starting something new I start with the colours and I just let my hands do what they feel, the names and the stories to these paintings come after... my paintings are purely intuitive based. There is a lot of stopping and staring (I have two little kids) and as soon as I’m finished my paintings are usual locked away or sent straight off so they aren’t destroyed haha!
How are you staying creative in 2020?
To be honest it’s my way of switching off, it’s a complete mediative process so it comes naturally… especially in such a chaotic year where to be creative is almost a little saviour. I work from home and I’m an extreme homebody so my year hasn’t changed too much when it comes to staying creative. I’m very lucky, I actually haven’t had a more chaotic, busy year than this year.
The quality I most admire in others is…
I won’t compromise on…
Being told what to eat haha.
The bravest thing I have ever done…
When I was 24 I caught the train down to wreck bay (I left with my mum when I was 18 months) to say goodbye to my grandmother. I walked into a house by myself re-meeting all my brothers and sisters, uncles aunties, nephews you name it. I caught the train back that night and my grandmother passed away the next morning. Re-connecting with my family has been one of the most significant moments of my life. I looked at myself and my life a little differently after that, my scribbles and my drawings were more meaningful. This was the beginning of my painting practice.
My personal heroes are…
My little brother Zac… he has been through hell and back and is kicking on though. My mum, raised my brother and I at 20! My close friends… we have a million kids between us and I look up to them every day and ask them way too many parenting questions.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Tis to the wind and walk on the ground like you belong here! - My mother and grandmother.
Your proudest achievement…
Giving birth! and raising 2 kids into being decent human beings, they are only 2 and 4 but so far so good. In saying that, they are both currently arguing as I type this.
I’m looking forward to…
I have had a very big year. So, I’m just looking forward to taking the next few weeks off.