Q&A: Jhana Millers

Jhana Millers trained as a jeweller at Whitireia, completed a Master of Fine Art at Massey University, then exhibited nationally and internationally as an artist.

In 2018 she founded her eponymous gallery on Victoria St with the aim of showcasing compelling and innovative contemporary art and promoting emerging local talent.

Jhana is also Festival Advisor for the Face to Face Portrait Festival, which will be taking over a bunch of Wellington galleries this weekend.

We grabbed a moment with her to talk about books, bays, and outdoor baths.

What’s your go-to takeaways order?
The lamb and lemongrass Pho at Fisherman’s Plate in Bond Street – such a warming dish for a wintery day, or if you’re feeling on the verge of a cold.

Where do you work and what do you like about it?
I own a contemporary art gallery –  Jhana Millers Gallery. Working with such a wide range of talented and capable artists is the best part of the job, along with introducing their art to a new and enthusiastic group of visitors and collectors.

What are you reading at the moment?
I often have two books on the go – a printed book and an audiobook. At the moment I am listening to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a yellow sun, about the Biafran war, something I knew nothing about, and am reading a recently published BWB text, Imagining Decolonisation – a series of short essays presenting a “transformative vision” of a fairer Aotearoa.

What’s your favourite place in Wellington?
The South Coast is my absolute favourite part of the city. Our house is on the South Coast, between Island Bay and Houghton Bay and before moving there, I would take visitors on a drive around the bays to introduce them to the city. Never did I think I would be lucky enough to live there. The water is a grounding force in our lives, both watching it and being in it, and the Taputeranga Marine Reserve is a local taonga that isn’t well known – pods of dolphins out front all through the summer and crayfish quietly wandering around the rock pools at low tide.

What’s the best local purchase you’ve made this year?
Recently I bought a small handbag from Yu Mei – the Wellington-based leather goods brand. Their Wellington store is downstairs from the gallery and their office and workshop is on level 4, above the gallery. The owner of the company, Jessie Wong, and several of her team are budding art collectors and are very supportive of young artists. The company has a strong sustainable philosophy that I support and can relate to.

What’s the best or worst gift you’ve ever received?
The most recent gift I received was a wood-fired outdoor bath from my husband Simon. It was bought with the intention of putting it halfway up the hill behind our house on the coast. When it is in place and functioning, it will be a magical place to relax and look out at the sea and stars. However, it is still in the garage, as it turns out it doesn’t fit through the downstairs access way – something that might have been useful to check. It will need to be craned or pulleyed up over our balcony, then carried up over 100 stairs… we shall see how it goes.

For the Face to Face Portrait Festival, Jhana is showing work by artists Ayesha Green and Hannah Ireland.

Read our interview with vintage taxidermist Angela Singer, who is exhibiting at the Portrait Festival here.

Read more Q&As here.


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