Annemieke Mein: A Life's Work by an extraordinary textile and watercolour artist

Red alert! Calling all those who live in the Sale area of Gippsland, Victoria, in Australia! There is a wonderful exhibition on at the Gippsland Art Gallery, which I’ve only just become aware of, unfortunately. It began on 2nd of March and finishes on the 26th of May 2024, so there is only a short time to go and see it, if you possibly can. It is well worth the visit as attested to by Anne's cousin Colin Morris who attended and reported back about this remarkable artist!
Annemieke Mein is a Dutch born textile artist who came to Australia with her parents in the early 1950’s and now lives in the Gippsland area. She has just turned 80, and has had a 60 year love affair with Australian floral and fauna, and particularly the insect creatures that live within. She studies every detail of their life cycle before reproducing these in incredible detail.
Whirlpool by Annemieke Mein (Credit:

We will let Annemieke tell you her story in a short video further down in this post, but first, an excerpt from a profile written by her husband Phillip Mein in 1991 for Annemieke's book THE ART OF ANNEMIEKE MEIN: WILDLIFE ARTIST IN TEXTILES tells us that:

The artwork of Annemieke Mein is unique. She combines fabric, paint and sewing threads to produce works that are realistically accurate but that also breathe with life and action, and are emotionally breathtaking for the observer.1

Annemieke’s art is difficult to categorise. Textile work has traditionally been ‘craft’, but Annemieke has moved it into the world of ‘art’. As one writer has noted:1

The line between art and craft is being bent and breached these days, but there are only a few practitioners who can make it disappear completely.1

The astonishing work of Annemieke transcends these and a few other categories besides. Embroidered and painted relief tapestries and fabric sculptures also erase the distinction between naturalistic and impressionistic portrayal.1

Black and white photos cannot hope to do this work justice. In situ, one is first startled by her amazing mimicry of nature. A furry moth on brown bark, for instance, both invites and repels the tentative touch of those who are squeamish around insects. A strand of kelp hung with mussels is so real that one is tempted to throw it back into the water.1

Having recovered from an intoxicated admiration of this virtuosity, you then begin to appreciate the artistic decisions which raise these works above sober actuality. They sing with her love of nature. They are magnifications (of) and heightened insights (into) nature . . . Annemieke Mein does not anthropomorphise her subjects or clothe them in whimsy. Her vision manifests itself in decisions to magnify a subject and subtly stylise it; in composition, in painterly renderings of the things which surround or lie beyond the focal point.1

Textile paints are used in conjunction with complex machine and hand stitching, to create effects which are sometimes astonishingly like watercolours, sometimes like impressionistic oils. Black or sepia stitching is used like the most delicate pen work. In some works the distinction between painterly and sculptural rendering is also erased. (John Clare, Sydney Morning Herald, 31 May 1984)1

Whirlpool by Annemieke Mein (Credit:
Annemieke Mein L:Thornbills (Credit: R: Fantail (Credit:

The following 6.49 minute video is fascinating, both for Annemieke’s story (as told by her) as well as for the detail in the three dimensional artworks and watercolours she creates. I am sure you will find the detail in her work just fascinating ....

Please follow the link below to the Gippsland Art Gallery site where you can learn more about the exhibition.

Annemieke Mein: A Life’s Work - A Retrospective
Gippsland Art Gallery is delighted to announce the much-anticipated Blockbuster Annemieke Mein retrospective exhibition, ‘A Life’s Work’, to be staged at the Gallery from 2 March to 26 May, 2024.

Such is her talent, Annemieke was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 1988 for services to the arts. Her recognition and following have grown to the point that Annemieke has had a permanent space at the Gippsland Art Gallery (GAG) since 2018 with the display pieces being changed twice a year.

However, a separate tribute, the retrospective exhibition of some 200 pieces of her work we mentioned at the beginning, closes on 26th May 2024.

However, most of us can't attend the exhibition of course, but you can see Annemieke Mein's works by clicking on the image below.

Annemieke Mein's website

Click Here

There is also a wonderful book showcasing her work called Annemieke Mein - Wildlife Artist in Textiles, which you may be able to source. First published in 1992, it has been reprinted over 20 times!

There is more information available on the Dutch Australia Cultural Centre website here and on the GatherDreamCreate website, here.



With thanks to the Gippsland Art Gallery.