What makes an artist: Llael McDonald

Bluethumb artist Llael McDonald is back with a new body of work in her exhibition, Sideshow. Llael shares why her new tiny town has captured her imagination, and ultimately, makes her the artist she is today.

Llael McDonald

Bluethumb artist Llael McDonald

Llael now calls the country town of Trentham in Victoria’s Central Highlands home. Since moving to the small village twelve months ago from Melbourne’s Inner West, Llael’s subject matter has evolved. Llael has always been influenced by her surrounds, and since moving to Trentham, the trees, greenery and natural beauty of the region has crept into her work. This evolution of her subject matter was unintentional, and the results are beautiful and surprising, capturing aspects of Trentham through new eyes.

Million Dollar Mermaid

Million Dollar Mermaid

“I love Trentham and the surrounding area because the landscape is so changeable,” explains Llael. “Forrest, open fields and mountains that change drastically from season to season. The town of Trentham itself is a little gem, with original buildings from the 1800s largely uninterrupted by any major chain stores – it makes you feel a little like a time traveller. It conjures up narratives in my mind about all that may have happened in the town. My immediate thought was of novels like Grace Metalious’s infamously banned novel of the 1950’s about a small town called Peyton Place and the more recent JK Rowling  book A Casual Vacancy.  This is where the fantastical element came from in this series of work and it was my intention to bring little stories into my paintings that could be interpreted differently by each viewer. I think good work is open to multiple readings and avoids locking the viewer into too tight of a narrative.”


She’s Not From Here

Her latest work in Sideshow plays homage to this town her family now calls home. Each piece features a recognisable Trentham landscape, laden with an imagined mythology for the town. The fantastical ‘sideshow’ element invites the viewer to look at Trentham in a new light as an outsider, observing this magical part of the world.

So has Llael ever experienced anything fantastical in Trentham? “Haha – yes – the fantastical arts community here. We are crawling with Sulman, Archibald, Black Swan and Moran finalists. It’s truly amazing! Catherine Abel, who’s gallery Im showing in, is herself a Sulman and Archibald finalist. Her work is amazing and I was very honoured when she offered to show my work in her gallery.”


Strange Fruit

Sideshow features eight works on linen, and smaller works on paper. The exhibition is on now at Catherine Abel Gallery (17 Market Street Trentham) until December 31. The exhibition is open Saturdays and Sundays 11am — 4pm.

Llael McDonald’s art is available to buy online here.

Keep up to date with the Australian and international art scene and discover new artists by signing up to our newsletter here.


5 ways to better understand Aboriginal art

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *