Dave chats with Emerging Tasmanian artist Melissa Lubke and discovers how she uses art as a therapy to explore and express complex emotions after her husband tragically died in a road accident in 2016 while she was pregnant with their third child.
In her first solo exhibition (Poatina Tree Art Gallery, August 5 – September 9), Melissa uses images,
materials, tools and objects dear to her and her family to journey through her grief of what was lost and how
to embrace this changed life with hope.
The contemporary works are highly conceptual, an influence from her advertising career. The exhibition is a
combination of installation, sculpture, interactive instructional art and two dimensional works with
contrasting stark whites and lighting, bold blacks and raw materials.
In 2015 Melissa gave up her 20-year career as a graphic designer to focus on a better life balance at their
evolving family farm in Underwood with her dedicated husband Andrew and sons, then aged four and six.
With the hope to grow their young family (the eldest child with ADHD and Autism) Andrew spent countless
hours outside of his day job preparing the property for a productive agricultural lifestyle for their children.
After two miscarriages they finally became pregnant again before Christmas 2015 but decided to delay the
announcement in case of another disappointment.But our plans are not always in line with the divine and tragically on the way to their church’s first gathering of the year, Andrew came off his motorbike into an oncoming vehicle on Lilydale Road just minutes from his  destination.
In the skilful hands of the Launceston General Hospital staff and cocooned with many loving friends, she
waited, trusting God with their family’s future. On the 16th hour of surgery and numerous bags of blood they
could do no more and she received the call to come in and farewell her husband.
Entwined within the confusion of “what next”, an overwhelming sense of peace overflowed via a
supernatural vision of how Jesus would take away the burdens. It was not long after this vision around 4am
that the call came from the exceptionally dedicated surgeons at the Launceston General Hospital that
Andrews’s body had failed to recover.
There is indeed life after death though and it is this tragedy that has awoken Melissa into her renewed
purpose – to help and show others the hope that Andrew had and the help that she has to continue on.
After relocating and rebuilding a now urban life, the most calm and healthy birth of their third son six
months later proved the permanence of this peace.
But while the light of this hope gave clarity she was well aware, for practical reasons, that she was
avoiding tackling the hurt, anger, pain and grief – the negative that comes with loss and tragedy.
She serendipitously met Karen Mace, Counsellor and Grief Therapist, at their home whilst buying second
hand doors from her and her husband Ross. They shared their own tragic story of losing two of their three
daughters which opened metaphorical doors for a beautiful relationship.
Combining art making with one of Karen’s writing workshops, Melissa amazingly found pockets of time and
vision, conceiving and creating the collection of works.
Melissa and Karen hope to tour this exhibition (or parts of) and workshop to other locations encouraging
people to feel safe to open even more doors and respond to their own grief through reflection and writing.
Confronting the Negative – Artworks by Melissa Lubke
The Poatina Tree Art Gallery, Poatina, Tasmania.
Opening 5th August 2-4pm until 9 September 2018
Thursday-Sundays 10am-4pm
Grieving Your Way – Expressive Writing Workshop with Karen Mace
Healing Place – 12 Eiger Court Grindelwald
Thursday September 13th, 9.30-2.00pm