You might have seen some of Melanie Hava’s beautifully bright work around town. This mum of three, including an eight-month-old baby boy who spends most of his time opening drawers, is one of Manyung Gallery’s inspired artists and also shows her freestyle work in Mornington’s Koh Living. Loving working with acrylics and canvas, Melanie is speaking with me from Cairns, where she has been living for the past six years. The rain has been falling. The flood water has been rising and the baby whose Aboriginal name is Bungadoo (Turtle) is squealing in the loungeroom next door. Things can get hectic when the kids are ready to rumble. Her own Indigenous name is Winden, which means “green pigeon”, while her two older children, a daughter and another son, have been given the names Gunggamburra (Butterfly) and Guwalba (Cricket) respectively. She explains:
“My grandmother gave us all our Indigenous names. My father came from Austria, while Mum came from the South Johnston River Mamu tribe in North Queensland. I never went to art school and have always just painted because I just love doing it. I feel it. My work is always colourful. I’ve always been attracted to the vibrancy. My sister used to paint when we were living in the bush in the Yowah opal fields west of Cunnamulla in Queensland too. She was a very traditional painter using earth colours, but she doesn’t paint anymore. I found it too isolating there. I’m definitely a city girl.”
Melanie has had a passion for art since she got into the paint box at kindergarten in Mt Isa. Embracing both her parents’ cultures, she now exhibits her large-scale work — think 130cm x 180cm — across Australia and has had a solo exhibition in Rotterdam too. Her delicate paintings digitally produced on Koh Living’s ceramic minikin range reflect this organic artist’s flexibility and capability to work across various sizes and mediums. She continues: “I’ve loved the partnership with both Manyung Gallery and Koh Living. My work is exclusive to Manyung, so you won’t find it in any other gallery on the Peninsula. I’m also looking forward to the ongoing partnership with Koh Living. I’m coming up with new designs as we speak.”
If you’d like to find out more about this Indigenous creator’s art, then drop by Manyung Gallery or Koh Living. This year sees Melanie cutting back on the colour, but we’ll wait and see. It’s hard to change something that’s an intrinsic part of your soul.