“I am interested in how we are defined and confined by the physiology, psychology, culture, geography, and time period we are born into and live. Contexts which inform us. Which give us meaning.  Meaning which is built, sustained and discarded moment by moment. Meaning we don’t always abide by, contexts we don’t always agreed with or even understand. In these moments I begin to see.”  Mel Dare



Mel Dare is a contemporary visual artist based in Perth, Western Australia. She explores how meaning is constructed within individual subjectivity primarily through painting and drawing. For the last decade she has been particularly interested in how personal narratives are created. 


The artist was raised on a farm just off the central Wheatbelt of Western Australia. Born to an Australian farmer and a mother who fled (after WWII) with her family at three years old – from the former Czechoslovakia – eventually gaining passage to Australia as a refugee. Negotiating her disparate familial cultural norms and expectations fostered in her a fascination with why people are the way they are and act as they do. Since childhood she has been interested in the stories we tell ourselves and others to explain who we are and our place in the world.  Stories inherited, borrowed, stolen and bribed from our families, our cultures, as well as our interaction with the world


The starting point for Dare’s current body of work began in 2013 in the Czech Republic when the artist revisited her mother’s homeland. Developing a further interest in the notion of self. In how an individual is constructed, threaded together by divergent strands of culture as well as the moments of time and place we exist. Gentle strands and crude stitches forming the pattern of conditioning imposed by external and internal influences. Weaving filters to see through, blankets to comfort ourselves, nets to save us and maps by which to navigate life. Formed by our simple yet almost all consuming need to survive and our equally strong desire for comfort. Dare’s investigation into how personal narrative has culminated in her 14th solo exhibition The Construction of Self opening on the 23th of February 2024 at Kamile Gallery, Perth. Curated by Vanessa Trento

Art critic Jude Van Der Merwe described Dare’s work in the group show Florid as “These exquisite meditations of texture, pattern and form convey a floating harmony where the ‘stitches’ become their own self-contained universe of memory.”  In the exhibition, with Olga Cironis, Lines That Define art critic Laetitia Wilson described Dare’s work as: “Such spatial and linear fields and patterns appear to be about the cosmos, the growth of lichen, cellular clusters, the movement of reeds under water, or the play of light, yet they are equally about internal worlds of thought, memory, emotion and identity.”

Since graduating with Honours, Bachelor of Arts (Arts) in 1999 Dare has exhibited 13 solo, and 3 duo exhibitions. As well as being selected as a finalist for many awards including Joondalup Invitational Art Prize 2022Bunbury Biennale (2017, 2019, 2021), Collie Art Prize 2018, Joondalup Invitational Art Award (2017, 2009, 2007), Royal Perth Art Award 2017, Mid West Art Prize (2015 & 2017), Bankwest Contemporary Art Prize 2015, Albany Art Prize (2014), Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize 2014, and Sunshine Coast Art Prize 2D 2014.


The artist has also been invited to participate in numerous curated group exhibitions including The Language of Colour (2023-24), Murajuga: Celebration of an Ancient Landscape (2023), Solastalgia (2023), Lust for Lustre (2020), In Our Nature (2020), Continuity and Change, Future (2019), Pure Contemplation without Knowledge 7, 8, 10, 11 (2015, 2016, 2018, 2019), Collective States (2018), Distillation: A Tribute to Howard Taylor (2018), Stations of the Cross (2017), Scene (2016 & 2017), Canopy: Into the Forest (2014), and Florid (2014). As well as joined in group projects including: collaborating with the artist Claire Bushby in the residency The Fabric of Us at Midland Junction Art Centre (2019). The mentoring project Continuity and Change, Future (2019). A cultural exchange between Perth artists and members of the Perth Taiwanese community in 2018 resulting in events and workshops as well as the exhibitions Antipodean Encounters: Western Australian Artists & Taiwanese Culture (2018) and A Portrait of Taiwan in Perth (2018)Plus, a long-term group discussion of Perth painters about the validity of painting within contemporary art practice resulting in the group exhibitions Steal (2016) and Painting as an Artform (2015).  Dare has completed three residencies at Arteles Creative Centre (Silence Awareness ExistenceFinland), Midland Arts Centre (The Fabric of Us with visual artist Claire Bushby), and Perth Institute of Contemporary Art (Interplay with visual artist Tori Benz)


In addition Dare’s work is included in the Edith Cowan University, City of Joondalup, St John of God, Princess Margaret Hospital and Old Swan Brewery as well as other private and public national and international collections. The artist has taught art in prisons, Tafe, Curtin University, Applecross Senior High School’s Gifted & Talented Program, Nascha Inc (disabilities services) as well as various public and private organisations and art centres. Since 2008 Dare has been a member of Gotham Studios.