Biography

Neil McLeod has a lifetime's experience working in the field as a photographer, artist, and most importantly, as a researcher collecting, recording and preserving indigenous art and culture in Aboriginal and  Papua New Guinea communities.

Neil Mcleod with the kids at Oenpeli, Western Arnhem Land Hector at home, Kulumburu, WA Neil and helper,Balgo, Western Australia Neil  Mcleod and children from Esekie, PNG young girl with bird of paradise feathered headress : Mt Hagen festival, PNG

Trained initially as a photographer (Dip Phty, RMIT) his early years were spent in wildlife photography. As Honorary Photographer for Melbourne  Zoo and Healesville Sanctuary in Victoria, his enquiring mind and  energetic impulse to engage with interesting and unusual subjects led to involvement with the Dingo Study Foundation and a number of other  scientific programs initiated by Universities and the CSIRO. Many of these, focussing on flora and fauna, broke new ground in the advancement  of biological knowledge and understanding.

His photographs of the newly discovered leadbeater possum are classics  in the record of that exciting event, whilst his dramatic night-time  photograph of two dingos in the wild with their new-born pup won him the  International World Wildlife's Magazine "Photographer of the Year" Award  in 1978.

International wildlife photographer of the year winning photograph by Neil Mcleod 1978

Recollecting his early childhood in the Mallee where he was in contact with Aboriginal people, he made contact again through Pastor Doug  Nicholls, attending Camp Jungai, in Eildon, Victoria. Here Pastor  Doug Nicholls was seeking to engage both Aboriginal and white youth in  re-awakening a sense of the culture and worth of Aboriginal people and society. It was here that Neil McLeod first met David Gulpilil.

Neil and JiJay, Mowanjum community, Western Australia

With his adventurous spirit and far-reaching vision, it was not long before he undertook his first trips to Arnhem Land and the Kimberley.

On the road again, Stuart Highway ,NT

On one of the earliest trips he met David Mowaljarli, whose intimate knowledge of Kimberley language, dance, song, ceremony and rock paintings was widely recognised. In the late seventies David was a member of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, the Australia Council Aboriginal Arts Board, and the WA government's Aboriginal Cultural Materials committee. It was David Mowaljarli who invited Neil to visit Mowanjum in 1977. On this trip Neil asked elders for permission to photograph cultural practices and ceremonies. He was seated in the shade under a tree; they came to sit before him, one by one, staring hard into his eyes. After some four hours of silent interrogation, and consultation amongst the group, they agreed.

Neil Mcleod's first initiation,Tabar Island.Initiated by Solar Leo and Joel Pitsia.