Installation view of Beverley Meldrum’s work on display as part of the <em>Melbourne Now</em> exhibition at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne from 24 March – 20 August 2023.    Image: Tom Ross

Beverley Meldrum

Beverley Meldrum
(Kokatha/Wirangu/Nunga, b. 1956, Penola, South Australia. Lives and works in Melbourne)

Beverley Meldrum is a Kokatha/Wirangu and Nunga artist, whose multidisciplinary practice includes painting, carving, ceramics and jewellery-making. Meldrum’s work often begins from beach walks on the Mornington Peninsula, where she has lived for thirty years: she collects and incorporates shoreline materials, such as shells, driftwood and seaweed, into her work.

Meldrum’s pieces Of land and sea, 2022, and Beached, 2022, expand upon her Found Treasures series, first exhibited in Blak Jewellery – Finding Past, Linking Present at the Koorie Heritage Trust as part of the inaugural Blak Design Program in 2021–22. The designs are inspired by kelp that Meldrum harvested and collected locally – a material that she moulds but gives its natural beauty ‘the final say’. The work is set in precious metals like gold and silver.

‘I love the smell of the kelp, even when it’s a bit pongy’, says Meldrum. ‘People wind up their car window, but I like to wind mine down and breathe it in.’ She praises the seaweed’s understated therapeutic properties as a ‘gift from the ocean’, which takes her back to her childhood on the South Australian coast. ‘The sea air, the salt, the texture of the water on your skin – it’s healing’, she explains. ‘Just sitting in front of the waves… is meditative, grounding. It’s everything, it’s me.’ The wider series features various natural and man-made items the artist found washed up on the beach, including netting, sea glass, rubber balls and thongs.

Meldrum’s work has been widely exhibited. She held her first solo show at Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery in 2022 and has participated in group shows at TarraWarrra Museum of Art, Craft, Baluk Arts, Koorie Heritage Trust, Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair, Tarnanthi Art Fair Adelaide, Fremantle Arts Centre and ReDot Fine Art Gallery in Singapore. She was a finalist in the 2022 Victorian Craft Awards, where her kelp necklace received the Encouragement Award supported by the Australian Decorative and Fine Arts Society.