InkMasters members are joining the arts community in Australia and internationally in mourning
the loss recently of a talented and generous man, Arone Meeks.
Arone worked with many people. He was a teacher, a mentor, an advocate, a sharer, a listener … always, whatever the situation, fully present. InkMasters’ Theo Tremblay has known him since 1985 as a friend and collaborative print partner and provides this summary of Arone’s life experience. It goes someway to explain why the grief for Arone’s passing is shared so widely.
‘Arone grew up in Tully and has Guganydgi (Yarrabah) and Gugu Yimithirr (near Laura), family ancestry. After losing his mother, his sole parent, at the age of 11, he was passed around to relations until his HS art teacher advised him to study art at Brisbane TAFE. He then went on to Sydney, where he worked a number of part time jobs, including modelling for Donald Friend, and attending Alexander Mackie Art School, now, College of Fine Art, UNSW. He befriended a number of Koori artists interested in starting a window front art coop to become Boomalli, still operating today, celebrating its 30th anniversary recently. He was artist in Residence at the Canberra School of Art /ANU many times, and had a solo exhibition at the Drill Hall Gallery in 1991. In 2019, he produced a series of etchings and lithographs at Canberra’s Megalo Print Workshop.
Throughout his life, Arone was instrumental in encouraging youth into the arts. He instigated the first annual Indigenous art exhibition at The Tanks during NAIDOC week in 2004, inviting Cairns TAFE students to assist — this led to CIAF. He loved travel. He and then partner John Darling, travelled to India where he was deeply inspired by the art and architecture. He featured in the American touring exhibition New Tracks/Old Land and was artist in residence at Massachusetts School of Art and University of New Mexico.
He exhibited widely, including at the Australian embassies in Paris and Bueno Aires. He also wrote several award- winning children's books (including Enora and the Crane). Audrey Hepburn presented him with his prize medal, an object he treasured.
Arone collaborated with many printmakers and deserves to be honoured for the enormous good achieved in bringing disparate groups together and celebrating diversity in all its ethnic beauty and wonder. What stands out, for me, is his lack of fear in adopting imagery from available sources around him - Keith Haring, Matisse, Desert Arnhem Land, Indian and Columbian painters - the range continues on. His thoughtful and provocative colours and incredibly disciplined, confident and sensuous line work will stay with me forever as will his kind, gentle manner and his generous heart.’
We send our sincere condolences to Arone's partner Geoff Dixon and his family.