Travel often informs the art of Melinda Schawel. It was during her first trip to Japan that she became absorbed in that country's art forms, which led her to enrol in printmaking on her return to Australia. More recently, after living in the USA for four years, Melinda is back again in Melbourne, and has used the experience as a starting point for her latest exhibition Torn. The exhibition runs until September 29 at Flinders Lane Gallery in Melbourne. Melinda has been practising as an artist for 15 years, and her work has been collected by the National Gallery of Australia, Artbank and the Royal Museum of Fine Art, Antwerp in Belgium.
Which five words best describe you? Adaptable, independent, tenacious, adventurous, happy.
How have you progressed to a career as an artist? I moved to Japan after graduating from university in 1993 and without language skills or friends to pass the time became absorbed in Japanese arts - ikebana, sumi-e (brush painting), washi (paper making). When I returned to Australia in 1995, I enrolled to do my honours in printmaking at RMIT, and fortuitously landed a job soon after with Port Jackson Press Australia who published original prints. I got the opportunity to work with many talented artists and that’s where it all started for me really. Several international moves, nearly 20 years and 2 kids later, I feel my work/career is still continually evolving.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Establishing a healthy balance between work and personal life is key, so that when one breaks down, the other can fill the gap for a while.
What was the starting point for this exhibition? My return from overseas earlier this year, and a lifetime of transitions.
What’s your proudest career achievement? I hope I haven’t had it yet.
What’s been your best decision? Getting on that plane in 1990 for my first overseas trip.
Who inspires you? Crazy people on NYC streets, children drawing, Rosalie Gascoigne, Blu, The Moth storytellers, dancers, anyone who has a go at trying something they’ve never done before.
What are you passionate about? Music, summer fruits, motherhood, the ocean, beautifully worn surfaces, good friends, making art.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? There isn’t one person that I would single out, but I always thought it would be interesting to get both sets of grandparents and great grandparents together for a lengthy Q&A session.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? To live in or at least explore all seven continents.
What are you reading? Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point has just made its way back to the bookshelf unfinished. Was recently given Patti Smith’s Just Kids by a good friend, which sadly was the first book I’ve read in a while after becoming addicted to podcasting - Studio 360, Fresh Air, This American Life, LNL.