Artist Profile: Melissa Drummond
In the late 1990’s, Melissa left Melbourne to travel to Kalgoorlie for a one-year adventure, 25 years on she is still there and exploring the vast geographic landscapes, biodiversity and unique community connection that regional WA has to offer. As a documentary photographer, Melissa’s practice examines the significance of where we are located and is drawn from her experience living in Kalgoorlie.
Melissa’s enthusiasm for photography started at a young age, “it kind of just happened” and although photography was actively discouraged as a career path during her school years the emergence of DSLR was a ‘game-changer’. While studying geology at university she learnt to use a camera to document the surrounding natural areas and it became second nature.
Image: Rainbows & Unicorns Part III, Melissa Drummond
Melissa often seeks out quiet, abandoned, and degraded environments, recording the influence and impact of human activity to influence her art practice. As a geologist and documentary photographer, Melissa’s observations examine the compelling contrast in landscape between the rich biodiverse Woodlands and the Golden Mile mining sites.
Melissa said she often questions, “How have we had such a huge impact on the planet in such a short time.”
Kalgoorlie is located within the Great Western Woodlands, the world’s largest relatively intact temperate woodland ecosystem. This is juxtaposed with the Golden Mile which refers to an area within the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Gold Field of Western Australia and is said to have contained some of the richest square mile of gold reserves in the world. Many towns have been a byproduct of these gold reserves, as Melissa claims “towns, suburbs and communities would get packed down and would move to the next place where they found gold.”
Her recent project, the Williamstown Heritage Project explores one of the longest-standing towns in that region. Through contemporary photographs, she documented 130 years of history in the suburb. Melissa explained Williamstown is probably the last little pocket on the Golden Mile of the suburbs which have disappeared.
Agency is also an important aspect of Melissa’s work, “as an artist in the Kalgoorlie-Boulder community I am mindful of how you represent that community.” Particularly with subjects in the Williamstown project, the residents wanted a way to celebrate their suburb and document it for the archives. In many ways, the amalgamation of Melissa’s practice is the perfect tool and method of preserving special moments for the community and environment, which add a lasting impression to the social and cultural fabric of regional WA.
We’d like to extend our congratulations to Melissa, who has recently been elected as the Chair of ArtGold. We were fortunate to have Melissa Drummond featured as our Artist of the Month in September 2023 and share insights into her life and experience as a practicing artist.