Ali Lauren Melck: celebrating nature

One of the attractions that made the launch of our First Thursdays at Frank’s such a success was the wonderful work displayed by some of our local Marina da Gama artists. The delicately coloured, deftly executed fine art prints by Ali Lauren Melck were a particular highlight on the crisp autumn evening.

Born and raised in Chicago, Ali studied fine art with a focus in photography. She came to South Africa in 2005 as a volunteer in social development and creative projects while working as a photographer back in the U.S. for several seasons in between. Now based in Cape Town, she has been pursuing painting as a practising studio artist, primarily in oil, ink and watercolours. She enjoys using her photography to provide reference images of birds and landscapes, an implements an eye for colour, composition and light to brilliant effect in her paintings.

Ali uses her photographic skills to capture reference images for her fine art works.

Fascinated by fynbos and the birds that call it home, Ali has come to care about the Cape’s rich natural heritage of biodiversity. As she points out: “Photographing, drawing and painting requires observation and getting to know something in a deeper way. This paying attention leads to an awareness of the interconnectedness of all things and a concern about the balance of nature. As I’ve been rooting myself in South Africa over the past 17 years, my creative practice helps me to feel more connected to and part of this natural world.”

As a member of the South African Society of Artists, the Watercolour Society of South Africa and the Constantiaberg Art Society, Ali exhibits several times a year at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. A number of quaint shops around Cape Town stock her limited-edition fine art prints, including the nearby Gina’s Studio on Palmer Road in Muizenberg and Mzuri Mamas at the Kalk Bay Village Square. For the month of May, she is having an online prints sale at

From seascapes and landscapes, birds to botanicals, Ali’s repertoire celebrates the particular beauty of the Cape. While her watercolours evoke the upbeat light touch of a Dufy or Matisse, her landscape oils strike more bold, dramatic notes. Her home studio goes through phases of order and chaos and holds her own evolving natural history collections of delft pottery shards and beach glass along with seed pods, nests and other pieces of nature found on walks. She and her husband, Marcus, moved to Eastlake Island last year and enjoy the natural beauty of the Park Island reserve and the peacefulness of the Marina lifestyle.

With several themed collections in mind, Ali is looking forward to stormy weather with lots of studio time as well as hiking in the blooming fynbos and capturing the wintery light over the landscapes as inspiration for some oil paintings. We’re already looking forward to seeing – and possibly showing – the results once she has worked her highly distinctive magic.

Meanwhile, if you would like to see Ali’s creative process unfolding on Instagram, follow her @alilaurenmelck.

Photo of Ali: Patrick McKenna