“Art is something that gives me pride like nothing else has,” says artist Matilda Julian. “It’s something that keeps on drawing me back in.” While she studied law at the University of Technology Sydney, and moved to Dubbo to work for the Aboriginal Legal Service, Matilda has since opened a cafe in the small town of Geurie. When she’s not working there, she’s painting and has been a finalist in the 2013 Portia Geach Prize and the 2013 NSW Plein Air Art Prize, among others. “That made me realise I might be good enough to devote my time and energy to painting,” she says. Matilda was born and grew up on an apple orchard in Bilpin, NSW. Most recently she exhibited at the Amber Creswell Bell’s Fleurt show at Saint Cloche Gallery in Sydney. All of her works sold out the morning of the opening. “The response to my work overwhelmed me and made me realise that even though I live in a little town in the middle of nowhere, there are people from all different and far away places who love what I am making.”

Which five words best describe you? My parents would say “too free-spirited”.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I have no formal art training. I've kept leaving law because it never felt right. It took a long time just practising, holding small local exhibitions, entering prizes until I started being selected for prizes. That was what kept me going. Amber Creswell Bell found me on Instagram early this year and since then it's been an unexpected whirlwind of people finding out about my work and wanting it.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Don't be disheartened. It's better to expect some downs.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Being selected as a finalist in the Portia Geach 2013. I couldn't believe it.

What’s been your best decision? To quit law each time. And enter prizes. And practice. And throw out my bad paintings.

Who inspires you? My partner Roland. He is talented, humble and lives with integrity.

What are you passionate about? I probably care most about people being good people. Good to others, good to animals, and good to their environment. I’m therefore passionate about the life you can have in the country. Seeing the stars, watching the slow river, and being able to see into the distance makes you very aware that the world doesn’t revolve around you.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I would like to meet my grandparents again and pick their brains about all the decisions I’m thinking about at the moment. Such as whether to have children, what I can bring to a family if it isn’t a paid job, and ask them about all of their love stories from the beginning.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? To grow old in a way that I can be proud of.

What are you reading? The 158 Pound Marriage by John Irving. He is an example of humour dealing with the hardest issues in the best way. 

images courtesy of matilda julian