Vale Dawnie

Sunday Blog 113 – 3rd December 2023

This is a visual tribute dedicated to a beautiful visual artist, Dawn Meader. Tuesday this week she was laid to rest in a moving funeral service. Just one year ago, in her sixtieth year on this earth, she was diagnosed with brain cancer. She didn’t fight cancer – she invited it in for cups of tea, loved on it, refused to believe it would take her so soon. 

Dawn was a fun-loving, visionary artist who used her talents not just to create stunning artwork. She also taught women to access their inner artist, their creativity. She gifted us with the potential to forge our own creative path, scattered magic over her students, which rippled out for so many of us. I wanted to reflect on the magic she brought into my life, and I know many others have magic stories of their own.

1/3 Getting unstuck with Art with Dawn Meader

Dawn’s classes were an intoxicating blend of music, chanting, meditation and putting pastel to the page. She was so playful, funny and vital, it was impossible to resist her encouragement. I came to Dawn as a stuck writer, and the very first pastel drawing she got me to do unloosed all the creative knots within me. I did many more, my favourite being on the top right, the representation of my book, and all the books to come. Most of our artworks with Dawnie were enormous – see my Gold Woman actually in the back of the car like a passenger.

2/3 Bali

Then there was the 2014 trip to Bali, where Dawn kindly allowed me to bring my 14-year-old daughter and held the space of women plus teen with grace and aplomb. Ten years later, my daughter face-timed me, trying to find the beautiful studio we had worked at and stayed in for the Bali retreat. I was busy searching my computer for the documents Dawnie sent about the trip and discovered the name just as my girl had found the place. I have a screen-shot the moment. It felt so like Dawnie magic.

3/3 Ongoing Dawnie magic

In 2014, we made a sandcastle at South Beach – a large-bottomed Queen Victoria. To shrieks of laughter and yet more buckets of wet sand, we forged this beauty under Dawnie’s direction. I was utterly exhausted by the end, but Dawn the artist made sure we pushed through until we had her just so. 

I stopped going to art classes regularly, as my writing practice was well-established. Then on Christmas of 2021, my daughter and I each bought one of Dawnie’s gorgeous 2022 calendars with an image of her artwork for each month. We wrapped it up and gifted it to each other, more laughing once we understood what had happened in the madness and mayhem of present unwrapping. I’ve written on the cover of mine, documenting that little big of magic, and that 2022 was the year Dawnie was diagnosed.

On Tuesday the beautiful memorial service started and ended with us all chanting “Hu” – like “Om” but designed to uplift you and help you see the magic in the everyday. We began each class with the Hu chant and I was right back in class, about to tackle another life-size artwork with Dawnie. The sound. The vibration. I joined in when I could stop crying long enough to sing, to meld with the voices of pure love. I thought about how many women whose creativity was unearthed or released through her workshops. Cried a bit more.

And I haven’t even discussed her art properly. So divine. A print of one of Dawnie’s exquisite paintings hangs above my writing desk. I always think it is a self-portrait of her flying over Queensland, where she lived at the time she painted this.

She was a gifted artist who chose to teach, to share her magic with students over the decades.

Fly high beautiful Dawnie, you rare and special soul.

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