The only real courage required in life is putting things to the test, actually seeing something through*
Mealie, aka Amelia Batchelor’s passion for visual arts and community arts has led her on a journey of discovery, meeting new people, experiencing different cultures and appreciating the world’s diverse art collection. She is an integral part of the Colour in Your Life team, which has a television series Put Some Colour in Your Life on 4ME nationally. New Zealand born Mealie has been impelled to create, to paint, to sculpt, to bring the images she sees so clearly in her own mind to life since she was a child. High on a hill at Murwillumbah perched high above a valley floor covered in cane fields with a river winding its way through it, in her new home and studio, Mealie has a spectacular view north east to that section of the complex system of mountain ranges, plateaus, upland areas and escarpments that criss-cross the border of Queensland with New South Wales.
This area is the gateway to Mount Warning (Wollumbin), Australia’s so called ‘green cauldron’, where the landscape is undeniably imposing and has an ancient and complex geological history. The trees she is looking at today probably began growing when the ancient Roman Empire was at its peak.
Nature in all its awe inspiring beauty, opens itself up to her completely from her half enclosed quintessential Aussie timber deck. There she watches great electric storms rock, roll and rage in stark contrast to the hazy mists, which meander lazily until they mysteriously disappear into a myriad of cracks and crevices in the mountains. Then there is the light of the sun, bringing forth hues of colour, that hover somewhere between blue and violet, intense and welcoming.
Amelia moved from her city studio in busy burgeoning Brisbane near the end of 2010. Since then she has invested her art and her life in the picturesque northern rivers region of NSW, where everything around is lush and green and life is still lived at a pace most people would prefer. There, in her new place to be, she is keeping her creative passion alive with an all new adventure in style at Mealie’s Art House.
She searched for months until she found a special place that beckoned her. Like a miracle, attached to the house was an old early twentieth century shop sleeping silently for years, waiting for someone to give it new life. Her all new ‘art house’ studio is filled with paintings and sculptures quite different from past works, which she says are “definitely reflecting this countryside and how I am feeling here”. To celebrate she held an opening night and day, showcasing the creations that reflect her ever-expanding view, that the earth is a wonderful, insightful, research program helping her expand and prosper.
Mealie said in an interview, as she prepared to move, “the prospect of working in an environment where I have the ability to solely focus on my creative inner wellbeing is, for me, very appealing. Such an experience stimulates new ways of observing, of working and thinking, providing me with an ongoing potent source of inspiration that will contribute to both my future growth as an expressive artist and to being an active contributing member of society.
All this is very important to me”. The back of her house is raised up on stilts. Down in the yard she is building an installation that is all about her journey to find a place to put down her roots, to settle and to express the importance of family. Life is art, and she takes it all to heart.’
The installation she created behind her studio is in the form of a boat, which is made from local organic matter, bamboo, sea-grass and sand, all of which are symbolic and about her journey to be there. The front and back of the ship are mosaic with a touch of whimsy – a mermaid under the stern’s head, a maypole for a mast. It is lit with stars and ribbons of colour.
The ship is filled with grass stars and old bottles with messages in it. She wants it to be an interactive piece as well, so that guests can write messages and send them off with hope for the future. She is making a treasure chest she wants to fill with blue treasures, blue in all its shades and nuances, being one of the colours she most identifies with. She has written a poem for the boat as it embarks on its journey, although she knows it’s not a boat that she can count on if there was to be a flood of biblical proportions.
Art is a language in images, a method by which we communicate ideas, express conceptions about self, our society, culture and community. Within the scope of human history art has concerned itself with the natural, the supernatural, the real and unreal, seen and unseen, the past, present and future, the transient and the eternal. All of these are present in what Mealie creates.
Today in a successful professional career spanning 20+ years Mealie has gathered an impressive portfolio of visual art works. They reflect her own collections, as well as commissions for community and corporate clients, curatorial and arts management projects. Graphic design was the career choice she made, after spending her childhood drawing from the depths of imagination. Over two decades of collective experience in a varied and diverse group of Queensland based advertising agency and design studio environment qualified her in a wide range of skills, offering opportunities to expand her expertise in a variety and diverse range of creative fields.
Her view of life is that it is a continual journey of discovery about self and others. It is about meeting new people, experiencing different cultures and expanding an appreciation for the world’s diverse art collections.
She says “Constantly I am inspired and enriched by the people, the land, the animals, and the ocean. I respond immediately to the intensity of light, and life, which invites expression by suggesting shapes and sounds, light and shade, nature and nurture”. One of those people is her son, whom she raised on her own with the help of a loving family.
Evolving an innovative approach to working with clients and community groups with the visual arts in mind has meant that Mealie has been involved in extensive networking creating her own opportunities to work alongside other inspired artists and artisans. This she believes has enlarged her own perceptions about what art is, and how other people interact with it.”
As well as producing her own works, she has developed group exhibitions, facilitated regular art workshops and managed public art opportunities for other local artists as well.
Working on community based art projects, such as the Big City Draw as part of the 150th Anniversary celebrations at Brisbane have helped her to understand the lines that can be drawn between community and culture.
Chalk Art Events in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne have been very special experiences, interacting with people from all walks of life and all backgrounds.
Amelia (Mealie) Batchelor is an exhibiting visual artist, gallery curator, community arts facilitator with a professional and creative approach to all aspects of art and design and her aim is to execute her works with both integrity and flair.
With over 2 decades of collective experience now in a variety of Queensland based advertising agencies and design studios, Amelia has a wide range of skills in variety of creative fields including manager of a number of graphic design teams; her range of technical expertise has included team leadership, providing innovative and exceptional graphic solutions for clients, project management and client liaison – skills which have followed through to her business consultancy work.
See Amelia Batchelor in the TV Show Put Some Colour in Your Life
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle 2011, 2012
* Simon Callow
Travel along the Pacific Highway until you reach the Tweed Valley Way / Murwillumbah exit just past the BP. Continue on Tweed Valley Way for approximately 14 klm till you reach Murwillumbah. Once you cross the bridge, turn right at the roundabout into Commercial Road, take your first left into Murwillumbah Street then first right into Queen Street. Follow Queen up the hill where you will find Mealie Art House
From Byron Bay
Travel along the Pacific Highway heading north until you see the exit for Tweed Valley Way near Crabbes Creek. Follow Tweed Valley Way for approximately 20 klm until you enter Murwillumbah. At the roundabout take the first exit into Alma Street. Cross the bridge, turn right at the roundabout into Commercial Road, take your first left into Murwillumbah Street then first right into Queen Street. Follow Queen up the hill where you will find Mealie Art House