Mimby Jones-Robinson is a vibrantly dressed and vivacious woman who adds considerable colour to our streets – not only with her art but in her manner of dressing. She is her own canvas!
Although Mimby had been painting on the streets for 10 years, her participation in All Your Walls, a street art event in Hosier and Rutledge Lanes, in 2013 was the first public showcasing of her work. It earned this much-loved artist a devoted following and a place in the Melbourne scene.
Mimby always wanted to be an artist and her early years were spent as a hairdresser.
”I saw it as a form of sculpture: shaping and forming. Although I found it to be an awesome experience, after a few years I left to go to art school,” she said.
“But instead of it being a nurturing and cultivating experience, it diminished my creativity. I felt that I was becoming institutionalised. It was soul destroying and stopped me painting for a while”.
However, Mimby wasn’t deterred for too long as nothing was going to stop her painting!
She travelled for some time, living a gypsy lifestyle. “On my return to Australia, I relocated from Adelaide to Melbourne. It felt like home! During the early stages of my pregnancy with our first child, I felt quite isolated. The one thing that got me through this period was to walk the streets – especially those of Fitzroy – looking at the art. It was inspiring. It had such a vibrancy and a sense of community to it,” she said.
The female image has always been Mimby’s chosen subject. “I’ve been painting goddesses, both on the street and canvas for over 10 years. I see them as a celebration of all women – be they mothers, daughters, sisters or grandmothers. There’s a lot of myself in them. They are an extension of my world!” she said.
Although there’s been some difficult times, through her painting, a colourful, cheerful and lively Mimby has emerged. Her joie de vivre is reflected in her work.
Mimby’s mediums of choice are acrylic, poscas, a little aerosol and sometimes stencils. She often uses a combination of paste-up and spray.
“As a young mother, time is such a precious commodity. I paint between sleeps and utilise every second. It’s very important to make the most of these times,” she said.
Mimby and I went on to discuss the local street art scene and the role of female artists in it.
“There’s a dirth of female artists. They are there but not being showcased or taken seriously. It’s still very much a male orientated scene.”
“I’m frequently asked by young women: ‘where are the females?’ I tell them to be positive and inspired that I’m out there and getting it up. To go home, start creating and bring your own personality to the streets. Gifting your art to the world and leaving your mark. It may be tough but attempt to make a living from it,”
“Sometimes the street art rules and the clandestine nature of it can be very restrictive. I originally thought the tagging of pieces in Hosier worked: it created a balance. But it’s been overdone and become too much.”
“That said, I’m not precious about the length of time my work stays up. It is the street after all. Most people appreciate street art but once you put yourself out there, you’re vulnerable. It can be a courageous thing to do and subject to a lot of criticism.”
“Hosier Lane has been a very effective billboard for me, generating commissioned work. It has become my exhibition space. A great publicity outlet! I’ve gained international recognition through my Hosier exposure.”
Since my chat with Mimby, she and her family have returned to South Australia. Adelaide’s gain is Melbourne’s loss. A lot of the colour has disappeared from our streets.