‘The simple pleasures …’ Artist Profile: Marcello Araldi
REDFERN: Marcello Araldi is working in his studio called Peace of Redfern. The terrace on Lawson Street, opposite Redfern station and adjacent to the Aboriginal Housing Company’s development site, has been a studio and home to Marcello for more than 20 years. “I love it here,” he says.
Most days Marcello draws and paints in the front room, the door to the street wide open, his little dog Shiba sitting in the doorway. Both artist and canine companion greet guests with enthusiasm.
Multimedia works of many shapes and sizes adorn the walls of the studio. I am drawn right away to a couple of hanging sculptures constructed from hand-made paper. The artist cultivates the plants (high-fibre species are best), cuts and pounds the leaves, experiments with different pulp mixes (including recycled newspaper and cardboard) to create uniquely textured and strong papers.
Marcello also enjoys making his own paints. He grinds stones and plant pigments with a mortar and pestle, sometimes using egg yolk as a binder. Egg tempera is ideal for painting on inflexible surfaces such as wood. The creamy consistency also helps it flow smoothly onto paper, cardboard, cloth or canvas.
One striking work with a certain mythological quality, showing the torso of a strong man, was created using egg tempera with a green oxide pigment.
A recent series of drawings and paintings – from colourful acrylics to ink-and-brush drawings and etchings in thick paint and medium – celebrates The Block as a symbol of Aboriginal pride and resistance as well as a home for human and non-human inhabitants. Featured birds include ibis, lorikeets and galahs.
Last month Marcello went to see his doctor for a check-up and was diagnosed with an early-stage melanoma on his arm. He has now had the cancer removed. “I’m glad it was detected early,” he says. “I urge readers to see a doctor regularly, every six months. And with hotter days approaching, please be careful in the sun – cover up, seek the shade when you can.
“This scare has really made me think about my mortality and how, in the big picture of things, it’s the simple pleasures – spending time with family and friends, even the enjoyment of putting a splash of paint on canvas and spending time with nature – that mean so much to me!”