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Alfred Memelink is a New Zealand artist who is becoming particularly well known for his streetscape and seascape paintings. Alfred Memelink has been painting watercolours since his first voyages to sea in the mid 1980s. However this hobby/work balance has swung where he now paints full time but still with the odd part time escape to sea or working on the little red harbour tugs.
With the sea in his blood and a storm soul, he just loves painting Wellington in all sorts of weather and the sea in all its moods. His special affinity for the sea and first hand knowledge of ships has also provided him with a very personal approach to his art which is now wining him international recognition.
He has been a council member of the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts for several years, was elected as artist member in 2004 and is currently vice-president.
Alfred is a long standing committee member of Watercolour New Zealand, in 2006-2009 serving as a President and re-elected again in 2013.
BioAlfred Memelink (1961) is a prominent New Zealand watercolour artist who is winning recognition for a great variety of streetscapes and seascapes, largely of Wellington region.
His family was the ideal place for a future artist to be raised in. As a boy, Alfred was always encouraged to do something creative, draw, paint or make models. His father was an artist and he used to set Alfred on one corner of the big table in the lounge to paint a small version of whatever big painting he was working on at the time. One of his most vivid childhood memories is the Sydney Thomson’s painting of a garden scene with beautiful mauve summer shadows. All through his early years, memories like these engraved upon Alfred Memelink a genuine admiration for art. This passion would stay with him even though he has chosen the career of a marine engineer first.
Surprisingly, Alfred’s job as a marine engineer contributed to his creativity immensely. It was during his sea voyages when Alfred Memelink trained himself to translate exactly what his eyes saw onto paper with the help of watercolour medium. As soon as he realized that art meant so much in his life, he took the plunge and left his job to become a full time artist. Pursuing an artist’s career in a big way, Alfred was on the radar from the very start. Thus, having no formal art education, he managed to prove that it's your paintings that makes you an artist, not your qualifications. Still, Alfred couldn’t give up the sea completely as he loves being at sea. Thus, he balances the two passions by spending about two months at sea and the rest in his art studio.
Since his first solo exhibition in 1994, Alfred Memelink solidified his place in the art community of New Zealand. Gradually, his feel for watercolour as a medium that has a temperament of its own has developed, and he has grown to be at one with it.
Alfred’s special association with Wellington and its harbour coupled with his deep-rooted love of the sea has endowed him with a unique approach to his art. He has the talent to combine a broad spectrum of colours and bring to life everyday scenes infused with his unusual perspectives. The artist’s Wellington theme paintings cover the region from Kapiti to Island Bay, with the focus on the central city, often in winter and autumn dress.
Alfred Memelink is a people person and he enjoys being involved in the local arts community. Alfred is a long standing committee member of Watercolour New Zealand, the national society committed to the promotion of watercolour painting, and was elected its president in 2007. Moreover, he is a council member of the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts, presently vice president, an Art Gallery featuring original artworks by renown New Zealand artists. In addition, Alfred turns to the talents and needs of the beginner artists. He initiated and conducted different workshops for members of Watercolour New Zealand society, sharing his secrets of watercolour painting techniques and his knowledge on how market the arts and set up an exhibition. Apart from this, the artist provides individual tutoring of watercolour painting techniques and leads watercolour classes for children and adults when time allows.
In 2008 Alfred joined a 50-day voyage on NIWA's deep water research vessel Tangaroa to Antarctica as chief engineer.
As part of the International Polar Year Census of Antarctic Marine Life, New Zealand scientists were to improve understanding about the ecosystem of the ice-packed Ross Sea region and research the impacts of global warming under Antarctic marine research program.
As an artist, Alfred couldn’t resist the temptation to paint the immense beauty of Antarctica during any spare moment he could find.
After a hard day of challenging work, Alfred's cabin was metamorphosed into an art studio and the artist himself did his best to capture magnificent scenes he saw. With no possibility to paint on deck because his watercolours would freeze straight away, he painted right from his cabin porthole or from photos he had taken during the day.
His sea voyage not only fuelled his passion to paint breathtaking marine landscapes featured in Alfred’s subsequent Antarctica theme exhibitions, but also made him realize the importance of preserving Antarctica as an International Nature Park. Since Alfred is recognized as an artist who creates positive art that uplifts the spirit, it is difficult to believe that he is the one who created such painting as 'Death of a Minke Whale'. This artwork, inspired by photos from K.Davison and J.Sutton-Hibbert taken during a Greenpeace expedition in the Southern Ocean, demonstrates that Alfred Memelink is not blissfully oblivious to the brutality of pointless slaughter and wants to make a difference with his art.
Read "ANTARCTICA - ARTIST'S DIARY" to follow Alfred on this fascinating journey.
Although Alfred has a specific style he has mastered, he takes time to do a lot of experimenting and seems to be in a constant search of what else he can learn. Thus, he even developed the abstract collage style.
At first he does wild abstracts of colour, then tears and cuts them to bits, and, finally, collages them together into a scene. Photography, sculpture, and prints are other media he is successfully working with.
There is a clear dialogue between Alfred’s painting and music. Being a jazz saxophonist, he regards jazz as an incredibly creative medium, which doesn’t restrict players to the written notes but permits them to be purely creative around the chord structure of the piece and melody. Jazz is thus often playing in the background whilst Alfred is painting – one of his Antarctic paintings he completed recently was even named after a jazz tune – ‘After Midnight’.
Alfred’s watercolours and photographs can be seen on stamps, cards, and different publications. For instance, in 2009 he created a series of paintings for the issue of the Pitcairn Islands Stamps commemorating visits by Royal navy ships to the Pitcairn islands. This stamp issue was soon awarded a gold medal from the prestigious New Zealand Pride in Print Awards. The second edition was released in December 2010.
Unlike those who think that being an artist is spending all the time in the studio, create their art, wait to be discovered and then get frustrated when they are not, Alfred is convinced that an artist actually needs to get their out there with their art, particularly in New Zealand. Enjoying the business side of being an artist, Alfred Memelink achieved great success with his solo exhibitions and the demand for his artworks is increasing.
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