Post by Adriana Alvarez
I was lucky earlier this month to step into Limerence on the opening night of their first exhibition for the year, ‘A Natural Love Affair’ by Melinda Wallis. It’s a moment of firsts because this is Melinda’s first exhibition. Despite her reservations about exhibiting, her work shows the confidence of an artist with a natural affinity for colour and design. Melinda said she normally paints, but in this exhibition she has explored other mediums. Putting together a series of natural objects like feathers, beads, branches and fabric to create beautiful sculptural works. The organic nature of the objects is enriched by arranging them in a subtle symmetry to enhance their beauty. We talk to Melinda about what inspired her to create and exhibit these pieces.
Tell us a bit about your current work.
So at the moment I’m being inspired everywhere I look! A beautifully shaped branch on the ground on the side of the road is all it takes. I wanted to combine the beauty I see around me with some of my favorite colors at the moment, and mix them together to create a beautiful wall piece that made me happy. This is a very indulgent group of pieces!
Why did you decide to have an exhibition?
This exhibition was the perfect next step for me, not too daunting, but still more pressure than I’ve previously put on myself in the last twenty years. I love the feel of the shop, and knew I could contribute in a unique way. It was just the right time.
What do you enjoy about living in the Dandenong Ranges, and is the environment you live in important to your making?
I’ve only lived in the hills for three and a half years, but my heart and soul has always been here. I grew up not too far away, but the Dandenongs have been such a special place over the years, and such a saviour at times. I feel at peace the minute I start the climb up the hill from Upper Gully! I always knew I would live here, I never imagined settling anywhere else, and I am never leaving, I plan to be buried in my backyard!
What motivates you as an artist?
Lots of things motivate me, other artists are a big one. I love to see what others are doing, a colour combination or new texture might send me off on a whole new train of thought. Nature and my surrounds inspire me, especially beautiful shapes and colors.
In what ways, if any, do you engage with the hills community?
In the three or so years I’ve been here I feel like my family and I have settled into hills life pretty well ! My daughter goes to Belgrave Sth Primary, and I’ve lost track of the hours I’ve spent up there in one capacity or another. I’m currently working with the whole school to produce gorgeous works of art to be auctioned at the fete. I go to a weekly art class to engage with like minded others. I always shop locally as I feel that its so important to support those around you. My daughter also attends various activities like dancing and scouts, and I try to involve myself as much as a can.
Do you have any strange obsessions that you care to share with out readers?
I definitely have a fabric obsession. You should see my house ! Color really speaks to me. A particularly beautiful shade can take my breath away.
What do you wish you knew about being an artist before you got started?
There are so many things I wish I knew earlier about the creative process. The biggest is about removing the clutter from your life to allow the creative you to come forward. Art can be whatever moves you, you don’t have to fit into a nice little category, just do your own thing. I think also for me, I know now that I won’t be happy unless I am expressing myself creatively in some way. The medium will change, but there always has to be an outlet.
Who are your creative hero’s?
I don’t really have any creative heroes, no one that jumps out at least. I love the work of Mia Oatley, a Queensland artist. I love Amanda Brooks and Joel Rea, yet at the same time one of the young girls in my art class constantly inspires me with her free spirit, as does my eight year old daughter.
Where can people find more information on your practise or upcoming exhibitions or projects?
Nowhere!! I don’t have a website, etsy page or facebook page ……. Maybe I should sort one out! I thought I would see what the reaction was like to my first exhibition before I got too carried away with self promotion!
Something else you want us to know? Here is your chance!
Nothing else to add really. I would love to hear any feedback or questions about my work, including commissions. My email is melinda.wallis@ hotmail.com – thanks for reading!
‘A Natural Love Affair’ by Melinda Wallis is showing at Limerence till March 25.
2/1642 Burwood Hwy, Belgrave.