ArtChat [Blog Interview Number 9] – Mel Brigg

This month we present an insight into the life and world of internationally acclaimed artist Mel Brigg.  Mel will show his latest collection in April in a major exhibition titled “Beyond The Realms” - a compelling look at the artist and his work. Mel Brigg is a self-taught, professional artist who commenced his painting career in 1970. As well as having exhibited in England, Portugal and Singapore, he has had numerous solo and joint exhibitions in South Africa and Australia. His collections of works are held by numerous major international companies worldwide plus several South African Embassies as well as the Queensland State Government.

Mel is a great supporter of various international charities including Care Australia, World Wildlife TrustWildlife presentation Society of QLD, to name just a few.  Mel’s artwork was used for the main promotional material during the visit to Australia by Pope Benedict IX for the Mary MacKillop Foundation.  Mel was the founder of the Swellendam Art Society in South Africa.

“This current collection can only be described as hauntingly beautiful.  When you view a painting by Mel Brigg you are drawn into the subject, thereby discovering the powerful message that the artist is portraying. This exhibition has exceeded all my expectations of this very talented artist with his diverse selection of subject”.  Margaret Campbell-Ryder, Director, Red Hill Gallery Mel Brigg Exhibiting April 2012 at Red Hill Gallery

Mel Brigg Exhibiting April 2012 at Red Hill Gallery

AC:     What inspires you to create? MB:    The excitement at seeing a blank canvass develop into something many may enjoy.

AC:     In three words describe your art. MB:    Hopefully, thought provoking landscapes.....sorry that’s 4

AC:     How do you spend your leisure time? MB:    With family and good friends chatting and enjoying fine food. Mowing 1,5 acres of lawn, that one see's growing as I mow!

AC:     Who is your role model or person you most admire? MB:    Vincent van Gogh had the most horrific life but continued to create masterpieces (and my wife, because without her I would have no ears)

AC:     Share something with us about yourself that we don’t know. MB:    My Father was absolutely against me painting as a career and because I persisted, I was alienated for some years.  I was a troop leader in the Boy Scouts, a gunner in the South African Navy, a dairy farmer, an olive farmer, had a gift shop and weaving factory and bred my own Angora goats for their hair!

Ran an illegal pre-school for 120 African kids, during the Apartheid era.....fostered kids from St George's Boys Home in Johannesburg.

I was also involved in the rehabilitation and welfare of ex of prisoners from Polsmor Prison in Cape Town.

Was actively involved in the organisation called Parents Of The Detainees .......looking after African families whose breadwinners were incarcerated for so called crimes against the state.

AC:     What music do you listen to while you create? MB:    Anything .....except those screeching opera singers, and country music about their horse that died ! (AC: We hear you!)

AC:     What was the last book you enjoyed? MB:    A novel on the Rhodesian war called........ 'Let's Not Go To The Dogs Tonight'

AC:     What does your art mean to you? MB:    Everything, I cannot imagine life without painting! I am in a constant artistic blur! (So my wife and kids tell me.)

AC:     In your work there is often a circle around a figure. Can you tell us what this represents? MB:    It highlights that person, his feelings of angst, arriving in a new strange land, and being different, as if in the spotlight, and being scrutinised by the locals (myself included.)   Until I discovered the SWANS...... the MAGPIES- ETC were not in fact endangered birdlife!

AC:     You were born in South Africa, what made you decide to make Australia your home? MB:    Most law abiding people would leave if they was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make in my life, but we saw no future there for our children.

But, I know now,.....the best decision I’ve ever made......this is our home!


Mel Brigg - Exhibition April 2012 at Red Hill Gallery