From her photography gallery, set amongst 10 acres of towering Marri trees in Kronkup, Meleah Farrell is immersed in the changing seasons. Tucked away from the main house, it is the showcase for her breath-taking collection of photographs. Meleah’s signature abstract style and unconventional approach shine though each piece. Some appear whimsically romantic with a modern twist, others beautifully sparse and textured. Using a mixture of creative and traditional printing processes is something she is passionate about and she explains that she would never develop any effect in her work which could not be achieved in a dark room. No filters or computer manipulations here. Just pure talent and innovative ideas which create an arresting array of artwork.
Meleah was always the kid with the camera but didn’t take her passion further until around 18 years ago. Whilst living in a fishing village in Malaysia she started a distance study course with the New York Institute of Photography. Back then a correspondence course meant just that, adding your photographs to an envelope and posting them off and then waiting anxiously for your tutor’s feedback. She didn’t let that faze her and, following the successful completion of the course, she progressed to studying Photo Imaging at the School of Art, Design and Media at TAFE when she moved back to Perth.
During this time Meleah began scouting for photography work. “I would take photos anywhere!” she laughs, “Weddings, birthdays, corporate and sporting events…anything just to get some experience and get my name out there.” Her diligence paid off and she secured a job with a professional photography laboratory. It was whilst she was here that she studied a variety of methods and materials for printing images and experimented with these techniques to get unconventional results. “I enjoyed learning the rules of photography…and then breaking them! Using the camera as my artistic tool I learnt to strip it all back to the art of photography.” This was around the same time that the industry transitioned from film to digital photography and this blending of the old and the new is reflected in her gallery today.
Making the move from Perth six and a half years ago was well considered and the area they now live in is transforming into a small creative hub, with local artists and galleries beginning to spring up around them. “We wanted to be near the ocean and beach and we loved the creative vibe down here,” she says, “I reached out to some local artists and became involved with ”Make a Scene” who organised the first Pop Up Gallery at Middleton Beach in 2013.” These popular events are held in different spaces throughout the year to showcase local talent and improve exposure. Meleah explains, “It is all about reinvigorating empty spaces and supporting each other’s creative ideas.”
It was there that she met her friend and fellow artist Leanne Fry and together they devised “The Seasonal Creative”. This initiative creates a space to support and encourage both upcoming and established local artists to provide a series of artistic workshops to the general public. The workshops run with the seasons and reflect the natural elements of those months. Designing the classes in this way appealed to both Leanne and Meleah, who take inspiration from nature for both their art and the delicious home made food which they also provide. The workshops are held in the gallery along with outdoor yoga sessions under the canopy of the Karri trees. “We like to think of it as a whole soul nourishing experience. People come from all over WA, often arriving so stressed out with their regular busy lives; it’s wonderful to see them relaxing and letting their creative energies flow.” Meleah tells me that they have seen many friendships develop from these workshops, as well as inspiring new artists to progress into hosting their own workshops.
Together they have hosted over 40 Seasonal Creative Workshops and have provided an invaluable platform for local talent to pass on their knowledge and advice. After such a productive collaboration it was with some sadness that Leanne has recently moved away, which unfortunately has brought an end to the partnership, however they remain good friends and supporters of each other and The Seasonal Creative workshops and events will continue with Meleah at the helm.
With Christmas approaching Meleah has an Origami Fairy Light workshop planned for the 2nd December and a Christmas Wreath making workshop on the 9th December. Along with the opportunity to indulge in copious fresh platters of local produce, with seasonal music tinkling in the background along with an offering of home made eggnog, it sounds like the most wonderfully festive way to wind down amidst the hustle and bustle of the silly season.
To be included on the mailing list for these and future events Meleah can be contacted on Facebook and Instagram pages or subscribe at www.theseasonalcreative.com for more details. At the time of writing Meleah is preparing her latest exhibition “Botanical” for the 2018 Southern Art and Craft Trail. Her gallery is situated at 45 Forsyth Glade, Kronkup, Torbay Hill and is open 10am – 4pm Friday, Saturday and Sunday or you can visit her website at www.meleahfarrell.com.
(All images provided and reproduced courtesy of Meleah Farrell. Reproduction in any media only by prior arrangement.)