“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.” Melanie Dare
Melanie Dare was born and raised in the Wheatbelt of Western Australia to an Australian farmer and a mother who – at 5 years old – fled with her family – from the former Czechoslovakia after WWII – to Australia as a refugee. The artist is a process-led, research-based visual artist who – through primarily painting and drawing – has explored varying but interrelated subjects including psychology, sociology, neurology, biology, identity, perspective and physics. With the intent of understanding how meaning is constructed within individual subjectivity.
The starting point for her current body of work began in 2013 in the Czech Republic when the artist revisited her mother’s homeland and developed a further interest in the notion of self. An interest 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.
This re-acquaintance with personal narrative has resulted in many other works and exhibitions including paintings exhibited in Florid (Turner Galleries and 45 Downstairs, 2014) which Jude Van Der Merwe (Artlink, 2014) described as “These exquisite meditations of texture, pattern and form convey a floating harmony where the ‘stitches’ become their own self-contained universe of memory.” As well as the exhibition with Olga Cironis Lines That Define (Paper Mountain, 2016) in which Laetitia Wilson (The West Australian Newspaper, 2016) described Dare’s work: “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 10 solo and 3 duos exhibitions. As well as being selected as a finalist for many awards including Bunbury Biennale (2017, 2019, 2021), Collie Art Prize 2018, Joondalup Invitational Art Award 2017, 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.
She has also been invited to participate in numerous curated group exhibitions including 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), Antipodean Encounters: Western Australian Artists & Taiwanese Culture (2018), A Portrait of Taiwan in Perth (2018), Stations of the Cross (2017), Scene (2016 & 2017), Canopy: Into the Forest (2014), and Florid (2014). As well as group projects including: collaborating with Taiwanese community in Perth resulting in the 2018 group exhibitions A Portrait of Taiwan in Perth and Antipodean Encounters: Western Australian artist and Taiwanese Culture. Plus a group painting-based discussion project resulting in the group exhibitions Steal (2016) and Painting as an Artform (2015).
In addition her work has been awarded 6 art awards and 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. Since 2008 the artist has been a resident of Gotham Studios. She has participated in three residencies. Collaborating with fellow artist Claire Bushby at Midland Arts Centre (2019); Arteles Creative Center, Hämeenkyrö, Finland annual Silence Awareness Existence residency (2017) and with fellow artist Tori Benz at Perth Institute of Contemporary Art (2005). Dare has taught art in prisons, Tafe, Curtin University, Applecross Senior High School’s Gifted & Talented Program, Nascha Inc (disabilities services) as well as through various public and private organisations and art centres.