Karen Mills is an Indigenous visual artist living in Darwin, Northern Territory.
Adopted as a young baby, Karen grew up in South Australia. She returned to the Northern Territory in 1983, to seek out her Aboriginal birth mother, and learn about her Indigenous cultural heritage. Mills began developing her career as a visual artist later in life after raising a family of her own.
Most recently Mills has been researching her family history and connections to country in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia. In 2013 Karen undertook a bush trip, assisted by Waringarri Arts, WA in which the artist accompanied Kittey Malarvie to visit her country at Sturt Creek Station.
Mills use of natural ochres and dry pigments has become her trademark – sophisticated and skilful, bringing the paintings method of her ancestors into her contemporary practice.
The artist’s first solo exhibition with Alcaston Gallery Texere – To Weave was held in 2011. In 2014 Alcaston Gallery was thrilled to present new paintings by Karen Mills in her solo exhibition The Alluvial Plain.
In 2015 Mills’ work was curated into the inaugural and highly successful Tarnanthi - Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, curated by Nici Cumpston and held at the Art Gallery of South Australia, SA. Mills has participated in major group exhibitions including ArtMart Northern Centre for Contemporary Art, NT, and Cérémonie Aborigéne: Art Aborigéne Contemporain, Antibes, France.
Alcaston Gallery presented 'North' in May 2016, an exhibition of new paintings by Mills further developing her techniques and processes using dry pigments and natural ochre. This body of work was inspired by the saltbush landscape of far north South Australia, seen by the artist on a road trip in late 2015.
Alcaston Gallery is delighted to announce that Karen Mills has been selected as one of nine artists for the inaugural edition of The National: New Australian Art, qhich opened on 30 March 2017 at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Carriageworks, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney, Australia. A major exhibition partnership between three of Sydney’s premier cultural institutions, The National: New Australian Art is a six-year initiative presenting the latest ideas and forms in contemporary Australian art over three editions in 2017, 2019 and 2021.
Karen Mills' artwork has been featured in exhibitions nationally and internationally, and is held in private collections around the world.
Selected Solo Exhibitions
2011 Texere – To Weave, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
2012 Karen Mills: Woven in 2D, Booker Lowe Gallery, Houston, Texas, USA
2014 The Alluvial Plain, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne, Victoria
2016 North, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
2019 Karen Mills: Forsaken Interiors and Other Contemplations, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Selected Group Exhibitions
2013 Kittey Malarvie & Karen Mills, Cross Art Projects, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
2014 Salon des Refuses, Outstation, Northern Territory, Australia
2015 Tarnanthi - Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
2015 Cérémonie Aborigéne: Art Aborigéne Contemporain, la collection Antiboise de Marc Sordello & Francis Missana, Médiatheque Albert Camus, Antibes, France
2015 Secret World: Carnivorous plants of the Howard sand sheets, Nomad Art Gallery, Northern Territory, Australia
2016 The Mirrored Image: Ten Years of Prints at Nomad Art, Nomad Art Gallery, Northern Territory, Australia
2016 Provenance Does Matter - The Collectors' Exhibition, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
2016 DENFAIR, Melbourne Exhibition Centre represented by Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
2016 All About Art, Alcaston Gallery at Depot Gallery, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
2016 Living Waters, Oceanographic Museum of Monaco, Monaco
2016 Length & Breadth – New acquisitions from the Parliament House Art Collection, Parliament House, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
2017 The Extractive Frontier – Mining for Art, Castlemaine State Festival, Castlemaine, Victoria, Australia
2017 The National: New Australian Art, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia in conjunction with the Art Gallery of New South Wales and Carriageworks, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
2017 Sediments: Karen Mills and Sarah Pirrie, The Cross Art Projects, Sydney, NSW, Australia
2017 Australasian Painters 2007 – 2017: Artist Profile 10th Anniversary, Orange Regional Gallery & Orange Regional Museum, Orange, New South Wales, Australia
2018 Chaos and Order, 120 years of collecting at RMIT, RMIT Gallery, Melbourne, Australia
2018 Melbourne Art Fair 2018, Southbank Arts Precinct, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, presented by Alcaston Gallery
2018 Sydney Contemporary 18, Carriageworks, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, presented by Alcaston Gallery
2019 Guirguis New Art Prize 2019, Art Gallery of Ballarat, Ballarat, Victoria, AustraliaSelected Grants/Awards/Residencies
2003 Communion & Other Conversations Residency, Banff Centre, Banff, Canada
2006 Inaugural Wenten Rubuntja Indigenous Artist Fellowship to New York
2012 Inaugural Artist in Residence, Waringarri Aboriginal Arts, Kununurra, Western Australia
2016 Finalist, Len Fox Painting Award
2018 Northern Territory Government Arts Fellowship
2019 Guirguis New Art Prize 2019, Art Gallery of Ballarat, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia
Charles Darwin University Collection, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Parliament House Art Collection, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
RMIT Art Collection, RMIT University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Australian Catholic University Collection, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Private Collections; Australia, Netherlands, Switzerland, USA