Mella Kirkby aka Charles Hannah
Mella Kirkby is artist Charles Hannah.
Born and raised in Christchurch, New Zealand, Mella moved to Melbourne in late 1999 to study art at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT). After graduating from RMIT with a major in painting and minor in printmaking, Mella went on to work in advertising and various creative fields before reconnecting with her passion for art.
In the tradition of Marc Chagall, Caravaggio, Man Ray, and other artists, Mella paints under the pseudonym Charles Hannah. Drawing inspiration from the heritage and culture of her great-great-grandparents Charles Maidment and Hannah Pickering who, as early pioneers, were bold enough to leave the comfort of an everyday existence and risk everything to pursue their life’s dreams.
After many years living in Australia, Mella now resides in New Zealand, yet considers herself a true 'Ausiwi'. Her appreciation of both countries and cultures is evident in her artworks, which explore a range of themes evoked by her appreciation of nature, the environment, her travels, and the personalities of the animals she meets along the way.
Charles Hannah’s Latest Works
Her current artworks draw inspiration from her passion for animals and her time spent as a Veterinary Nurse. These poignant, quirky, and skillful portraits celebrate the different mannerisms and personalities of the animals around us. Using her high technical skill and understanding of creative concepts she blurs the lines between quirky pet portraits and rich animal character studies to bring their wonderful personalities to life and to deeply connect with the viewer.
Charles Hannah’s extensive and skillful use of negative space comes from an appreciation of Eastern art and design aesthetics and shows how it is often what is left out of an artwork that enables the viewer to fully focus and become involved with the ‘hero’ subject.
The use of negative space also beautifully emphasises & celebrates the tension between the expanse of sky and the unexpected leaves in the Out of the Blue, or leaves against sky series. Here Charles Hannah brings a simplicity to her work that is reminiscent and inspired by Hokusai’s botanical artworks - artworks where the depth of simplicity makes the audience pause and consider the everyday beauty that is so clear yet is often unseen, and is just waiting for you to take a moment, breathe, absorb and appreciate.
Charles Hannah’s love and appreciation of travel and the natural environment is also evident in her latest series of artworks displaying deeply emotive and contemplative themes of ocean boundaries and soft landscapes. Inspired by the softness of Gerhard Richter’s land and seascapes, these works evoke our deep emotional responses to the beauty of our environment.
The more recent underwater series also draws on the fluid softness and translucency of Dale Franks abstract washes, and explores the emotive feelings of the oceans depths, refreshing escapes, and the calming flow of water so as to bathe the audience in a cleansing sea of tranquility and sereneness.
Charles Hannah was the winner of the 2017 Queenstown Arts Centre’s Supreme Award and People’s Choice Award, Her works are proudly displayed in private collections across New Zealand, Australia, India, Italy, Dubai, London, Canada and Singapore.