Over the past few years Danie Mellor’s exotic blue and white drawings, often inlaid with Swarovski crystals, have led to him becoming a leader in the new wave of cross cultural art being made in Australia. Pinning either the artist or his work under any specific label is not an easy thing to do. Mellor was born in Mackay, Queensland and descended through his maternal family from the Mamu/Ngagen/Ngajan peoples. He’s also a past winner of the Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award. During June and July Mellor will exhibit works at Manly Art Gallery & Museum under the title ‘Between history and paradise’. Michael Reid at Elizabeth Bay will simultaneously show ‘Paradise Garden’ comprising new works from the artist.
Mellor’s new work references the Australian landscape – but not in the way we are used to seeing it. He creates ideas drawn from the Willow patterns on English Spode chinaware but substitutes traditional European scenery with Australian rainforests. Kangaroos, dingos, koalas and native parrots are placed in his theatrical scenes and add welcome splashes of colour. Aboriginal people are pictured in classic pre-settlement mode quietly carving shields or weaving baskets. Somehow without any jarring cynicism Mellor’s work cleverly provokes a rethink of our colonial history and explores the imposition of new cultures on traditional lands and people.
Pic: Danie Mellor, Paradise Garden (Different Country, Same Story), 2012. Courtesy of the Artist & Michael Reid.