Alfred Memelink joined Watercolour New Zealand in 1990 at which time it was The Wellington Watercolour Society. He has served on the committee for the 25 years. During his term as president, 2006 - 2009, many developments occurred. The membership of the society doubled, the annual exhibition moved to a larger venue and was trademarked as ‘Splash’, courses and beginner workshops were established, the newsletter moved to full colour, Alfred ran the first Painting Safari and the website was set up.
Alfred continues to provide wise guidance to the Committee, particularly in the world of online media. Alfred has always been a consistent supporter of the arts in the greater Wellington region having served for many years with the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts and other groups.
With great vision and courage he worked to establish his beautiful Memelink Artspace, gallery and teaching venue. Alfred is brilliant at “getting his work out there”. On one day I admired a Memelink in the foyer of a funeral parlour and the same evening, in a different town, admired another in a cinema. Alfred gives personal encouragement to all. His experience enables him to see a future pathway for each artist. He shares ideas with generosity, encourages, inspires and open doors. ~ Sue Wild
One of my most vivid and engrained memories of childhood was of an afternoon one August school holidays. The first week of the holidays were always fun and freedom from classes, but the 2nd week – well, the days tended to become a little ‘Ho Hum’ and you ALMOST started to look forward to school again. So one afternoon, late in the second week, I went up to mum, who was cooking in the kitchen and instead of asking “What’s for dinner?” I said to her surprise “Mum I’m Borrrrrred”. Mum dropped the wooden spoon in the pot and promptly set up a small set of watercolours on the dining room table and a tiny blue vase with a plastic red rose in it. She then gave me a small empty wooden frame that she had found at an op shop. “Paint this” she said “and if you can, make it to fit in the frame.” An hour later I had finished and Mum inserted the painting in the frame and put it on the mantel piece where it sat for about 20 years! I was so pleased and satisfied with what I had achieved. I had created something and that hour turned out to be the highlight of my school holidays.
What has stuck in my mind from this experience was how much joy one can get from a little dose of
creativity. That’s one reason I enjoy teaching - to help other people experience the same joy from creating with watercolours. I have found teaching to be one of the most enjoyable aspects of running the gallery. Introducing young and old to watercolours and seeing the joy that participants get from attending these classes. It’s also fun watching new attendees arrive, some of whom seriously try to convince me that they’re not artistic. “You’ll never get me to paint” they tell me. So I put a friendly wager, perhaps a bar of chocolate, on it and I always win. It’s wonderful to see their beaming smiles of creative satisfaction at the end of a two hour art class. They leave with a completed painting under their arm which they are so proud of. The art classes for youth and adults have grown in popularity. The growing number of youth dedicated to watercolour painting is really encouraging and it has been great to see this supported by Watercolour New Zealand. Adult classes are nurtured along with a glass of wine to boost the inspiration process.
The gallery has certainly kept me busy since it opened nearly five years ago, with over 300 artists in all genre now on board. Now there’s sometimes not even room to hang any my own paintings. With the work involved in regularly changing exhibitions I seem to have less time to paint. So thanks for the invitation to be guest artist for this 2018 Splash exhibition. It has made me dedicate more time to painting. I just realised it’s August, so I had better make a start.
~ Alfred Memelink
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