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Annemieke Mein: A Life's Work

"The quiet rise of Annemieke Mein from a regional textile artist to a global art phenomenon is one of the great stories of Australian Art from the past 50 years" Simon Gregg, Director Gippsland Art Gallery

I was stunned by this exhibition today. It is a true blockbuster: a lifetime body of work that has great depth and exquisite quality. These are not botanical illustrations of Nature on cloth but artistic masterpieces. Annemieka has ignored trends since the 1970s but is highly experimental throughout her career exploring all mediums and technologies that were available to her. The exhibition includes sculpture, embroidery, fashion design, drawings, photographs, paintings and recorded interviews.

She brings Gippsland's rich biodiversity to life:- Bogong Moths, Birds, Spiders, Webs, Fish, Plants, Pods, Frogs, Prawns and, one of my favourite works The Blue Skimmer (Dragon Fly Tripdych). Its the scale of her work that dramatizes the subject without compromising her forensic observation of detail. Her work is reminiscent of the dynamic and playful miniature illustrations in the margins of Medieval manuscripts, up-scaled for the contemporary art space.

I urge everyone to make the effort to get to Sale for this remarkable celebration of life.

Each individual work is a statement of respect and love for my environment and it is through this work that I hope to make people more aware of the importance of preserving our natural heritage. Annemieke Main 2005

A beautiful and generous catalogue accompanies this highly professional exhibition. It includes contributions by Gwen Webb OAM, the former long-serving Director of the Sale Regional Arts Centre who championed Annemieka in her formative years (1976 -1990) and an acknowledgement of the generous patronage of late John Leslie, whose bequest has underwritten the ongoing acquisition of significant works for the Gippsland Gallery collection.

This 1988 Frog Sketch (Ink on glass paper) "A T-shirt design for the Sale Regional Art Gallery fundraiser in 1993" is a small taste of the exquisite drawings and sketchbooks that have been collated from private collections for the exhibition.

An astonishing array of flora and fauna make this area their temporary or permanent home... birds,fish,insects,spiders, reptiles,marsupials and other mammals, amphibians and crustaceans, as well as a wondrous variety of plants. The beaches, waterways, wetlands,forests, plains and mountains of Gippsland have been my inspiration for 60 years.

Annemieke Mein 2014 (artists' statement)

Take the time to explore her sculptures downstairs (ground level) and the art in the nearby, award winning Sale Botanic Gardens where Annemieka's steel sculpture, Eucalypt leaves, adorn the main entrance wrought-iron gates.

Eucalypt Sculpture Annemieke Mein OAM (2008) Entrance Sale Botanic Gardens

My congratulations to Director, Simon Gregg, his professional team and to all the contributors to this comprehensive and beautifully illustrated catalogue.

Text: Jo Moulton 10th April 2024

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