28 March 2024

'It has been quite thrilling': First Nations artist awarded residency at Wagga Wagga Art Gallery

| Jarryd Rowley
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woman and man with Indigenous art

Indigenous artist Juanita McLauchlan has secured a 12-month residency at the Wagga Wagga Art Gallery after receiving support from Brad Sweden and the Elsa Dixon Aboriginal Employment Grant. Photo: Jarryd Rowley.

First Nations artist Juanita McLauchlan prides herself on being able to share her talents with others in the community.

Her special ability to capture the culture and heritage of her ancestors has become quite popular with members of the Wagga arts community.

Now, after receiving the backing of the Elsa Dixon Aboriginal Employment Grant, Juanita has been able to secure a 12-month residency at the Wagga Wagga Arts Gallery.

“To be recognised as an artist and to also be paid to produce work is an opportunity that I’ve never had before,” Juanita said.

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“The opportunity to showcase my work has been quite thrilling.

“It’s been an exciting couple of months. I’ve also been preparing my work at the moment for an exhibition at Parliament House. The exhibition will be opening on the third of April.”

A printmaker by trade, Juanita has been working in art for more than 20 years; however, it wasn’t until recently that she ventured into textiles, producing Indigenous and European-inspired works.

“The idea of bringing it all together and wearing it proudly is really special to me,” she said.

“It has given me the opportunity to share my stories and tell people about what we have here in Wagga.”

The grant will allow Juanita to work at the art gallery for seven hours a week and receive mentorship about administration practices from gallery staff.

“The residency gives me the opportunity to meet new artists. I’ve already met a couple of wonderful artists this week,” she said.

”There’s been a snowball effect and a constant motion of learning and I have no doubt it will continue over the next 12 months.”

Wagga Wagga Art Gallery director Lee-Anne Hall said she had worked with Juanita in the past and was delighted to continue working with her in 2024.

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“Her [Juanita’s] work is just astonishing,” Dr Hall said.

“She had a major exhibition in the gallery last year and a number of people in the community did visit and would be really familiar with her work.

“The residency involves professional development and mentoring Juanita in her career as an artist. What is special about this residency is that the Elsa Dixon (Aboriginal Employment Grant) is recognising artists as workers.

“Quite often artists are seen as people who do it as a hobby, or it’s something that they do on the side. Juanita is a dedicated artist and has a career that is starting to take off, which will be supported by both the gallery and the wonderful opportunity provided by the Elsa Dixon.”

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