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Mel Kilby

Mel Kilby

Blazing Banksia 

Ink, Clay, Acrylics, Resin on wooden canvas 

60 x 70 cm 


It was a few months after the bushfires in the Shoalhaven had been officially declared as ‘out’ and no longer a threat, that I took a drive out to Tianjara Falls with a friend’s DSLR camera to take photo’s for a photography assignment on focal length and aperture. Regrowth was already occurring, and it gave the landscape a surreal feel to me. It invoked so many emotions being there and being in that space, many of sadness and despair. I felt a connection with the plant-life, the trees bearing their scars from the fires, no foliage, but tiny green shoots beginning new life from the dark. A banksia tree, with its burnt tree trunk and branches captured my interest with its textures and shapes and looking at it made me almost feel its pain and suffering from being ‘ravaged by raging fire’. I was struck by a deep sense of wonder on how the banksia pod had survived such devastation. I pondered the connection between the pod and myself, both scarred, for the banksia pod it was physical, for me it is emotional, those scars representative of trauma that has been experience in the life time of our existence. 

This artwork is a mixed media exploration of regeneration or regrowth after disaster. ‘Blazing’ in the title refers more to the banksia pods resilience, it being ‘very bright, powerful and impressive’, a metaphorical likeness drawn to my life. 

The creative process involved recreating the parts of the plant using clay and paint on an alcohol ink background. It is not a pure realistic representation as I wanted to portray my own interpretation of the textural sensations that I could feel within my body from this plant. The use of epoxy resin also adds to the theme of resilience in this work.


Blossoming Gumnut

Ink, Clay, Acrylics, Resin on 40 cm wooden canvas 


A photograph on social media captured by a friend was the start of my journey with this work and it was a labour of love. The photo invoked so many emotions within me and made it irresistible to explore further through a creative process. Associations to my childhood, to raising my own children and thoughts of having grandchildren, the memories, and thoughts that this photograph triggered for me, played over and over in my mind. It brought to mind images of May Gibb’s story, “The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie”, read to me as a child, and melamine dinner sets that my own children had growing up. The shape of one of the gumnut blossoms in the photo reminded me of my 4-year-old daughter dressed in a ballerina tutu that she had made completely out of paper at preschool. Beautiful memories from a beautiful native flower. 

Sadness also struck me pondering the future, especially after the devastating bushfires in Australia earlier during the year, whether children of the future, my grandchildren and great-grandchildren, would still be able to touch, feel and see these gorgeous flowers when they are growing up or if they would only be able to view them in book, on the internet or through works of Art.

This artwork is a mixed media exploration of capturing the beauty of these native flowers for the ‘future generation of children’ and ‘a memento of my childhood and parenthood’. The creative process involved recreating the parts of the plant using clay, paint, and card on an alcohol ink background. I wanted to create depth and dimension in this work by using three-dimensional created pieces and layers of 3D paint in between multiple layers of epoxy resin for the blossoms.



25 x 25 cm wooden canvas, 3 pieces 

$ 2000

I was intrigued by the water droplets on this vine as it wrapped itself around the garden fence one rainy morning. It had perhaps grown on its own from a wayward seed one day, when the kids had a passionfruit to eat. We had just had a huge downpour of rain after the massive bushfires that razed the Shoalhaven Region and to me it just sparkled with beauty and life. I felt an instant connection to this plant, the randomness of where it grew, how it got there, the shapes of its leaves and the different textures of the plant. The way that it twisted and turned, spiralled around the fence and the gate on which it climbed. Such an interesting plant.

This artwork is a mixed media work created using a variety of mediums that I have been exploring and experimenting with in my current art practice. Alcohol inks allowed me to experiment with ‘randomness’, a medium that employs less control and lends to a more abstract nature. This work is a process of built up layers of collage with the alcohol ink yupo paper, three-dimensional embossing paint, acrylic paint, and layers of epoxy resin and mounted on cradled birch wood panels.



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