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Mike McMeekan


Active for 5 decades in various capacities always an exhibiting artist and photographer, teacher, lecturer and administrator. Exhibited many times internationally and locally. Cancer survivor.

Artworks: 4

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About Mike McMeekan

A brief biographical overview

Mike McMeekan was born in Durban, South Africa and has enjoyed a close relationship with Australia since 1974 when he travelled here on a surfing odyssey. At the end of that same year his family immigrated to Australia. Mike returned to South Africa mid-1976 to re-engage his studies and to participate in the evolving political/arts climate there. He returned to Australia for significant periods in 1980, 1992 and again in 1998 when he finally settled in Adelaide with his wife and children to spend time with his ailing mother. They remained, taking up citizenship in 2000.
In South Africa Mike began his arts career as a graphic designer and studied fine-art part-time with the University of South Africa. He switched to fine arts full time in 1982 and went on to complete undergraduate and two post graduate qualifications; taking his Honours (with an Emma Smith Scholarship) at the Durban University of Technology (DUT)[1] and some time later a Masters Degree (MAFA) at the University of Natal. Along the way he also studied Philosophy, English literature, Classical Culture and Counselling with the University of South Africa (UNISA) and has subsequently completed a Bachelor of Education majoring in Art and Philosophy at Tabor Adelaide.

During his first post graduate studies (honours) he began a curatorial position with the NSA Gallery continuing in this role, (piggybacking a 6 month stint as Art Master @ Amanzimtoti High School)[2] until accepting a lecturing position at his Alma Mater from 1989 –1998. He served in many administrative positions including elected ones on: the Universitys Academic Board, was a founder member of the Executive Board of the Natal Visual Arts Forum, a delegate to the Masisukume Art Conference, served on the Acquisitions Board of the State Gallery was a founding member of the States Culture and Tourism Art Council, and was nominated for the position of Dean of the School of Design at which he lectured. As the elected President of one of South Africa’s oldest largest arts organisations, the ‘Natal Society of Arts’ (now KZNSA) for the constitutional maximum of three terms, he was the visionary and subsequent project co-ordinator behind the construction of what was to become the largest privately funded contemporary art establishment in South Africa; a complex comprising of restaurant (indoor/outdoor), gift shops, workshops and four galleries.

He has been involved with the sport of surfing for almost fifty years, including eight as designer of ZigZag Surfing magazine[3]. He has completed in numerous white-water canoe marathons and weekend races for the Kingfisher club, and as a long distance runner participated in events such as marathons, half-marathons and 10-16 kilometre races, including the ultra-marathons: ‘Duzi’ (canoeing: 3 days) and the ‘Comrades’ (92 Kilometres running). Since living in Australia he has spent many days hiking through the hills and gorges around Adelaide, Kangaroo Island, the Fleuriou and Eyre Peninsula’s, Flinders Ranges, and in Northern Queensland’s tropical rain-forests as well as Tasmania’s temperate ones. He has climbed the ‘Frenchman’s Cap’ and solo rafted the Collins/Franklin Rivers. (3 weeks [formed a film production company to document the trip]) He cycled from the Flinders ranges to Adelaide and has spent much time in Australia’s outback painting and documenting the landscape. As a result of these activities he has completed two books featuring paintings, sketches and prints plus travelogue documenting his experiences.

As an artist and photographer[4] he has been a merit award winner and finalist in some of South Africa’s biggest national touring shows, and represented South Africa on the ‘LIFETIMES: Contemporary Art from Southern Africa’, in Munich Germany. He has won regional and national awards for his work, has exhibited and been collected on three continents and has been interviewed for numerous articles ranging from art and culture to op-ed pieces including being voted by the Sunday Tribunes art critic as “Arts personality of 1996” for his part in the establishment of the KZNSA Arts complex, the same year in which he was awarded a page in the Maquis “Who’s Who of World Art and Culture”. He and his work also featured in a ten-page spread in the June 2001 edition of Australian Artist.

Since settling in Australia he has lectured at the Adelaide School of Art, co-hosted a radio program entitled “Artful thinking”, been an artist-in-residence at a number of Adelaide schools and completed a 5 week artist-in-residence program at the TreeTops resort for the Port Douglas Gallery. His exhibition schedule since 1998 has been busy and includes a number of interstate shows, one of the more significant being: chosen as one of three to represent Australia from a field of 11,567 artists from 99 countries to join 147 other artists on the Osaka Triennial (Nov – Jan 2002) where fellow Australian Immant Tillers won the silver medal.

He was the ‘South Australian Living Artist’ (SALA) for Greenhill Galleries during 2001, and again for the Adelaide Central Galleries in Norwood during SALA 2002. During 2003 he held solo shows @ Greenhill Galleries ‘Celebration of an Australian Summer’ (26th January – 19th February) which was opened by the South Australian premier Mike Rann, as well as a show in August ‘Fragments III’ @ the National Wine Centre in Adelaide. He held two shows in Sydney and has exhibited in numerous group shows including the Needham Art Prize, Greenhill Gallery’s ‘Selected Artists’ and a collaborative exhibition entitled ‘Flinders Eight’ @ Gallery M in the Marion Cultural Centre’s new gallery. His first Melbourne solo show ‘Fragments IV’ was held at the WhiteHill Gallery during October/November 2004. During 2005/6 he was an ARTS SA mentor to a young artist on the Eyre Peninsular a collaboration which has resulted in three exhibitions thus far.

This was the same year he was diagnosed with an incurable cancer and given six months to live. Obviously that is now behind, as was an open heart surgery event in 2011 but these health have merely increased his faith and inspired him towards art-making with new impetus. Although he taught in Adelaide schools since 2008 he now concentrates on home-schooling his youngest son with an emphasis on the masterpieces of Western civilisation; literature, history, art, philosophy and mathematics.

He has completed more than 26 solo exhibitions and is continuously working on fresh creative expressions and aside from his never-ending, ongoing painting projects he is currently collaborating with two local councils on a very exciting public sculptural project with enormous tourism potential.

Personal blog:
Another cancer scare has cropped up and once again has been dealt with, phew what next!. Anyway life goes on, good things are happening, I am getting my act together with this site and have begun a new series of paintings and sculptures. The tourist idea we were working on has been sidelined by the bureaucrats (funny thing that, money for of the mayor is no issue, but something for the benefit of many with no cost to the council at all is sidelined?) but the concept has not been abandoned, I am meeting at a higher level in the next few weeks so here is looking to the future. Update: We have switched to another council with greater reach and the progress is looking good…unfortunately the Coronavirus Lock down has put everything on hold but the future never looked brighter.

[1] Then called the Natal Technikon.
[2] Came straight from school to the gallery for afternoon/evening shift.
[3] South Africa’s longest continuously in print specialist magazine still in circulation. + 30years!
[4] National State winner of the Argus/Ilford ‘South Africa at Work’ competition.

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