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In The Studio With Milli Jannides

Milli Jannides & McLeavey Gallery at Aotearoa Art Fair 2024

April 2024

Milli Jannides graduated with a conjoint Bachelors degree in Fine Art and Literature from Elam School of Fine Arts, The University of Auckland in 2009. In 2010 she was a guest student in Peter Doig’s class at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, and in 2013 received a Masters in Painting from the Royal College of Art, London. An itinerant life has led her to various countries over the past decade, experiences which have fed into the paintings and exhibitions she has made in Aotearoa and abroad.

Milli has returned to Aotearoa after living overseas for several years, most recently in Stockholm, Sweden. Milli and Olivia McLeavey caught up on how Milli has found her return to Aotearoa and how living overseas has influenced her and her work.

Milli you have lived overseas for the last 13 years, how has the return to Tāmaki Makaurau been, or is it still too early to say?

It's been so long in the planning, I'm happy to be here! The first few weeks were a little surreal, waking up and hearing a tui outside; daddy longlegs in the bathroom; seeing the place (and myself) through my son's eyes. He said to me, bewildered: 'you know everything here'. Which just goes to show how lost I must have looked at times in Stockholm.

You are bringing a unique experience and perspective from the international scene back to Auckland, do you feel your European exposure has influenced your work?

Living overseas, I worked out a recipe, it's nothing new, but it made my working life pretty productive: curiosity + isolation + occasional bravery. Moving to a new city makes you want to explore, so I did, I went to so many museums and galleries and shows. I also was lonely at times, the upside of which was lots of studio time, or at least plenty of time alone with my own thoughts. When I was over that I would be brave and make myself talk to strangers, maybe at some of those shows I was going to. This pattern repeated when I moved and since I've moved a few times it has had quite a big impact on how I work and how I feel about my work.

Your paintings have been described as “achingly beautiful” and are admired by collectors and artists alike, how do you respond to this?

It's not what I am thinking about when I start a painting...nor when I finish one, but it is nice to think that the work affects people. "Achingly" makes me think of something out of reach, which is a curious way to think about painting.

We are delighted to welcome Milli back to Aotearoa and thrilled to be able to share with you new work from Milli at the 2024 Aotearoa Art Fair. Milli's work will be at the McLeavey Gallery booth (G07) on Thursday 18 & Friday 19 April.

Photo credit: Victor Staaf

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