Meeting The Artists: About Aden and Karena McLeod
Born in South Australia in 1967, Karena grew up traveling Australia with her family. After finishing high school in North Queensland, she gained her nursing certificate and worked throughout Australia and London for over ten years before returning to school where she achieved her bachelor’s degree in Applied Science in Coastal Management with a specialisation in ecotourism. As an undergraduate, Karena volunteered with the international organisation Youth Challenge and worked on ecotourism and community health projects in Central America; she later became Vice President for Youth Challenge Australia. As a graduate, she accepted a position in resource management, developing community and business environmental education, management, and policy. Her interest in environment and community well-being led to further studies in Environmental Law at Sydney University. Karena stood for the federal election as the inaugural Greens Candidate in the seat of Warringah, Sydney.
Aden was born in 1950 in Texas, of Cherokee Indian and Scottish descent. He went on to traverse the globe throughout the course of his life and work, which deepened his knowledge of global culture and humankind’s inextricable interconnectedness with the natural environment. These experiences have given life and breadth to his work as a sculptor — he values above all the vibrant exchange between artist, community, materials, and nature. His belief takes life in the verve with which he engages audiences and cultures in collaborative and performative work, as well as his pursuit of art as a tool for social betterment. Aden’s craftsmanship and use of representational form are rooted in the traditions of classical sculpture and traditional technique such as hand-building in clay and lost-wax casting in bronze — a tradition that stretches as far back as 4500 BC. Aden is deeply physical in his relation to materials. Flying across the malleable surface of fresh clay, his hands pummel the surface in the rhythmic intensity and precision of an artist who has developed a lifetime of muscle memory, flowing from gentle moulding to staccato blows, natural as music. His subject matter varies from the representational to the fantastic. Through his work on public and private portrait commissions, he has gained a sensitivity to moulding personality into the form of bronze.
History of the McLeods
Combining breathtaking sculpture, innovative design, and a keen sense of our place on the earth, Aden and Karena McLeod are redefining the intersection between art and global responsibility. Their work, which is featured in exhibits around the world and as large public art pieces, is noted for capturing the essence of humanity and the power of the individual.
Aden and Karena have worked together for eighteen years after first meeting in Sydney. Aden, known in Europe as the “21st century Rodin,” mentored Karena to become a professional artist and sculptor. Their journey has taken them around the world and throughout Europe, Asia, and North America. They lived in Devonport, Tasmania, where they opened a gallery and focused on creating fine, custom furniture, hewn from the island’s famous trees. After moving back to the mainland in 2008, they found a beautiful 2.5-acre property in Tropical North Queensland where they have since set up a furniture workshop and sculpture studio.
Karena and Aden have met with mayors, CEOs, Consul Generals, and other key figures in public life to discuss their work. With their unique background that focuses on art and ecology, Aden and Karena are changing the conversation about what it means to be an engaged and creative citizen in the 21st century. With work that expresses the deepest and fullest nature of our humanity, they challenge us to reflect on our own individuality and the joint heritage we share with others.