By Esther Lauaki
What’s your connection to Melton?
I moved to Melton about six years ago.
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about art, specifically painting. One can often see me around Melton with paint all over me, as I forget to clean it up.
I also love working with kids with disabilities, especially autism, and giving them the outlet to create … surrounded by like-minded people who are accepting of them.
Tell us about your involvement with the Artists’ Collective of Melton.
I am one of the founding members of the Artists’ Collective of Melton as well as its current president. Other group members joke around that I have hamster wheels in my head, as I always come up with millions of ideas of what we should do next. However, there isn’t enough funding and manpower available to do everything.
When I came to Melton, I was terribly lonely and could not find my “tribe” – people interested in community work, art, literature and creating.
Since then I have opened my doors to creative people of Melton … to come over, talk, create and share skills.
What inspires you most in your work?
When I paint, I do not have a theme that holds me permanently. I keep shifting and changing and then returning back to old themes with new knowledge. January is Strada Easel Challenge month, so I am organising a “plein air” or life study painting day. I always try to learn new skills that I can apply to my interests. I swing between highly realistic work to more loose, expressionist work.
What other hats do you wear in the community?
I wear many hats. Besides Artists’ Collective of Melton, I love supporting Melton Botanic Garden, as it is one of my favourite places in Melton.
I love donating my time and skills to any community group and charity in need. I hold art workshops for children and adults alike, as well as donating my art to Hope Street, organising the art battle to raise funds for homeless youth, decorating community library for Melton South Community Centre.
What arts initiatives are coming up in the next few months?
The big project that will consume my time is Diversity Wall. Artists’ Collective of Melton will be visiting a number of local primary schools to show the beauty of fluid art to kids, teach them about the importance of diversity through art, and at the same time create a beautiful masterpiece that will be on display for Harmony Day at Melton and Caroline Springs libraries. The final work, after the exhibition, will be donated to Hope Street in Melton. We are also hoping at the same time to raise funds for emergency accommodation for Hope Street.
Tell us about the upcoming plein air arts event on Friday (January 18).
On January 18, we have decided to make it an invitation for artists and those interested in creating to join me at Melton Botanic Garden. There is something special about going out and creating. It is about capturing the mood and essence of the place, and there is no place better than Botanic Garden. Some of the gum trees, especially around Small Lake, are over 100 years old.