Artists | Melanie Mills

"Objects have a life of their own - sometimes I can show this in paintings." - Melanie Mills

Melanie Mills is a British national who emigrated to New Zealand as a child. She currently lives in Wellington. Inspired by the works of British and New Zealand modernists, Melanie Mills creates beautiful still life images that seem to defy the very confines of their frames.

Having received no formal training in the arts, Mills’ painting style is delightfully naïve, eschewing traditional modes of representation in favour of an idiosyncratic, emergent approach towards depiction. Her first exhibition was a sell-out before it had even opened.

Mills has described her own painting style as 'technically challenged', allowing her to work closely with medium. Rather than acting as a master of the oils directing exactly where they should sit, she works with the paints towards the final image. This approach allows an alluring depth of feeling to emerge from her works. As with the best naïve art, Mills creates a vision of what is felt, rather than what is seen. Mills draws on the colourism, abstract forms and flatness of modernism, engaging in the transformation of the visual world through her work.

To listen to a recent Radio New Zealand interview with the artist in conversation with Eva Radich, please click here.

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I don’t have any manifesto or narrative. Words don’t really mean much to my paintings – I’m more involved with the subjects, paint, brushes and supports. I think of my paintings as visual language, but I’m not sure what they are saying... I paint intuitively. I hope to know when a painting is finished before I go too far.


Melanie Mills, 2017