Profile: Niah Juella
Posted on 31 March 2017
Enter into this moment with Niah Juella McLeod - an ethereal and gentle soul with an intrinsic and highly exuberant creative mind.
Casting your eyes upon her artwork gifts you nothing less than an overwhelming sense of love, admiration and total wonderment.
We got to understand a little more about her journey in her art, heritage, motherhood and her future dreams...
We love you Niah!
What is your latest endeavor?
My latest? Eek hmm… I think having a baby is pretty huge and has taken up a lot (all) of my time... I’ve somehow managed to do an 80m x 3m mural in Lismore, which is about to launch and have also done Tourism Australia’s logos. Yay!
Current inspiration behind your artwork?
My inspiration has always been the sky. The stars the moon.
What was it that started your journey in artistry? Tell us more about your heritage and how does that shape who you are today?
I’ve always drawn and painted, Mum always encouraged both my brother & I to be creative. We were always surrounded by beautiful artworks my grandmother brought back from different remote aboriginal communities where she worked as a nurse and midwife.
Drawing and Painting was always something to me more like meditation, a way to switch off or tune out; not realising until later it was doing the opposite. I only really painted here and there and doodled in books like my art diary then decided to move Sydney just over a year ago. I was signed with a modelling agency and working full time.
Within the first week of living in Sydney I took myself off to the South Coast, I needed to see my Grandmother whom I hadn’t seen since I was a baby. I met up with my Uncles, Aunties, Brothers, Sisters. Re-connecting with my family has been one of the most significant moments in my life.
I looked at myself, my life a little differently, my scribbles, my drawings were more meaningful. My first painting I’d really connected with was one I had done specifically for my Nanna Mac.
After that trip, I caught the train back to North Bondi, quit my job and quit the modeling world. I entered myself into an exhibition art fair, painted my ass off for three months and sold every single piece. Whoo!
I have recognition most importantly from Family and now I can pay my rent through doing something that is so intrinsically part of who I am and so worth doing! I have started painting full time. It is still such an extreme journey, I'm so proud of myself and of my faith in my belonging.
Best moment in your career/work so far?
The best moment in my career would have to be when I had first quit my job and turned to painting full time. I had my first exhibition and sold every piece. I will never forget that feeling of the last day, a little sad that I had nothing to take home because I always have such a big connection with my paintings but feeling so exhilarated at the same time.
Your daily mantra?
Haha currently, “Is it wine ‘o’clock yet?"
Something you have learned in your work/career that you can pass onto other women in your field?
If I could pass anything on, it would be to go for every opportunity, even if you think you aren’t “qualified” or good enough. I think travelling and meeting new people, putting yourself out there is very important and has been a big help for me, I’m an introvert and love my anonymity. Though I surround myself with people that are so driven and passionate about what they do, it’s a content inspiration to keep doing what I’m doing.
I’m heading off to Switzerland and Cannes Film Festival in a few weeks so if I can lock down a couple of galleries overseas I’ll be one happy lady. But, if I can be the best Mum I can possibly be and occasionally get a few paintings done here and there, I’ll be living the dream.
To see more about Niah - @niahmcleod