Australian born Melinda Brown left University High School at the age of 15 and founded her own school in inner city Melbourne, which was supported by University lecturers and tradesmen. The school, named Chintamani after the Blue Pearl of Learning, began a model of arriving, observing, then creating places of learning, dialog and exchange that over the past 40 years has been passionately refined and developed.
Desert explorations followed with a 6-week Inma with Pitjantjatjara people in Mimili, Central Australia. The experience led to a lifelong interest in Arid Zone Research and eventual return to the deserts of Central Australia (2012) to work with the Anmatjara people and develop a model desert living environment.
Melinda was a founding member of Bush Video (1973), an experimental media collective that wired the tropical New South Wales town of Nimbin (Australia's Woodstock) with closed circuit television. Portable video equipment was distributed to record and air events at the Nimbin Festival, which was organized by the Australian Union of Students. After the festival, Bush Video established a television studio in Sydney and the work culminated with The Australian National Gallery acquiring two lengthy video art explorations, Meta Video 1 and Meta Video 2.
Upon the birth of her daughter, Wandjina (1976), Melinda created Tetra Toys, a line of geometric wooden toys with designs based on polyhedra. Tetra Toys was the first Australian Toy Company to exhibit at the New York Toy Fair 1978.
Set and Production Design followed with desert country work as Set Designer on Mad Max2, which led Melinda to establish a business specializing in film design and hardware. From this fertile ground Melinda's first sculpture studio emerged. Situated on the Walsh Bay wharves, Sydney (1987-1998), the cavernous studio was where Melinda developed her infamous spatial instillations and gigantic formalist sculptures.
Seeking a broader cultural arena, Melinda moved to NYC where she established Bombora House (1991) in Manhattan's Meat Packing District. Against odds, she converted a dilapidated building into a private Art Museum for visiting artists and performers.
Now seasoned in creating environments that engage and transport the viewer "from the mundane to a world of infinite possibility", in 2005 Melinda landed in Downtown Kingston's ghetto where she mentored the local children and was surrounded by love.
In this dynamic and inspirational environment she responded to Antonio Porchia's dictum: You can owe nothing if you give back your light to the Sun. This was the foundation of ROKTOWA. Its mission – Plant Artists to Create Growth – derives from the idea that an Artist can function as a cultural antibody, a working artistic cell.
At ROKTOWA artists work with tradesmen to create world-class products that form the basis of a manufacturing and export industry. ROKTOWA artists build a currency of work that is an alternative to the criminal economy that is rife in struggling communities everywhere. ROKTOWA sees the issues of Violence, Environmental Degradation and Education as interconnected and seeks, through artistic enterprise, to find solutions.
With the aim of creating a Botanical Oasis in the middle of downtown Kingston which functions as a place of inspiration and respite, ROKTOWA is developing a new form of creative educational identity and community.
For her work in creating a new vision whereby the Arts provide an avenue for 21st Century cultural development, Melinda Brown is receiving TheWIFTS Foundation 2012 Arts Advocate Award (Inaugural)