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Arone Meeks and Geoff Dixon raise global awareness on climate change and endangered native species through art.

Arone Meeks, 'Thylicine, Quinkan and black cat', 2019, mixed media and acrylic on canvas Source: Valerie Boll

Arone Meeks and Geoff Dixon’s artwork is featured in ARTNOW FNQ 2019, a Cairns Art Gallery’s biennial exhibition showcasing the best and most exciting contemporary art by artists who live in or have cultural connection to Cairns and the region of Far North Queensland.

ARTNOW FNQ 2019  was launched last December and will run until February 02, 2020.

Valerie Boll caught up with both artists whose works are featured in the exhibition and perfectly align with their long-expressed values and concerns.

Arone Meeks is a KuKu Midgi Man who grew up in Yarrabah and El Arish, Mission Beach, Far North Queensland. Although his country is the area around Laura, Cape York, he currently resides in Cairns. 

Arone values his combination of training and experience mixing traditional and western techniques.

Arone Meeks
Arone Meeks
Valerie Boll

Arone’s work employs both traditional images and themes arising out of his long-expressed concerns with the issues of Land Rights, Sexuality, Cultural Values and Belonging to Place.

Speaking to Valerie Boll in the sidelines of ARTNOW FNQ 2019 Arone said his work on display at the exhibition is about the human migration. Through this work he questions where exactly we are all going to end up.

“I guess that question always comes back to: Is this the natural phenomenon that we are actually going through or is it something than is being brought on by over-population and the killing of this species which is so vitally important to our existence? " Arone Meeks reflected.

Geoff Dixon was born in Bluff, New Zealand and studied graphic design at the Christchurch Technical Institute.

He was the 1997 Art Foundation's Artist-in-Residence in Southland, and the Art Centre of Christchurch's Artist-in-Residence, 2007-8. He currently lives and works in Cairns, Queensland.

Geoff has long been concerned with the fragility of the natural world alongside the human drive for collection and preservation, and with our contribution to the tragedy of extinction.

Geoff often uses birds on the verge of extinction to reflect the state of our ecology. He likens his paintings to 'portraits of us.'

Geoff Dixon
Geoff Dixon
Valerie Boll

Through his art, Geoff regularly confronts audiences with the unsettling fact that 1 in 3 of New Zealand's remaining bird species are in serious decline.

Geoff Dixon’s piece on display In ARTNOW FNQ 2019 is aptly named “Change in the weather”. This giant painting is a reflection on our current experience of climate change and one of the most dramatic consequences of climate change: the near extinction of native animals.

Speaking to Valerie Boll, Geoff confided that he usually paints birds but this time his artwork reflects on the consequences of last year’s dramatic heatwave. Through Change in the weather Geoff uses the near extinction of rare fruit bats to put the consequences of the heatwave into perspective.

“As a result of the heatwave, thousands of these fruit bats that are key standard species were just dropping dead out of the trees,” Geoff Dixon said.

He adds that his piece is meant to be a really big in-your-face statement about a really important species.

Arone concurs with Geoff while reaffirming our interconnectedness and the intertwined nature of environmental phenomena.

“What really is happening. It is not just here in Far North Queensland; it is all across Australia. The Murray River drying out there and the politics that is happening about ecosystems like that. It not just here, not just in Australia. It is worldwide”

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