Australian bohemian, visionary artist, dancer, and muse of the 1950s and 1960s, Vali Myers was born in Canterbury, Sydney, on 2nd August, 1930. Her mother was a violinist and her father was a marine wireless operator. Vali’s penchant for art came early in her life, leaving home at the tender age of 14. After working in factories to support her dance lessons; she became immersed in dance and later became the leading dancer for the Melbourne Modern Ballet Company.
- In 1949, at the age 19; Vali travelled to Paris to pursue a dance career but found herself living on the streets of Saint-Germain-des-Prés Quarter on the Left Bank.
- She became a nightclub dancer, and she was also a talented fantasy artist who worked in pen and ink as well as watercolor; and whose works often depicted elements of the spiritual world.
- As well as her Parisian lifestyle, Vali also enjoyed life in a 14th-Century cottage in the valley near Il Porto (Positano), Italy; as well as time in Melbourne and the Hotel Chelsea in New York City; as her “home”.
- During her life she met many important people including Jean Cocteau, Jean Genet, Tennessee Williams, and many others.
- Her paintings have sold in excess of $US40,000.
- In an effort to escape her opium addiction, Vali left Paris and in 1993, after 43 years away, and returned to Melbourne. She set up a studio in the Nicholas Building on Swanston street, where foe the remaining decade of her life she painted, drew, drank and danced with those who came to be in her presence of this unique free spirit-life.
- Myers died in Melbourne on 12 February 2003 shortly after being diagnosed with cancer at the age of 72.
On 18 January 2003 , The Age newspaper printed an article about Vali’s life before her death a month later. The article concluded with the following quote from Myers: “I’ve had 72 absolutely flaming years. It [the illness] doesn’t bother me at all, because, you know, love, when you’ve lived like I have, you’ve done it all. I put all my effort into living; any dope can drop dead. I’m in the hospital now, and I guess I’ll kick the bucket here. Every beetle does it, every bird, everybody. You come into the world and then you go.”
- You can still see some of Vali’s work at the State Library of Victoria’s “Bohemian Melbourne” exhibition, which showcases, Melbourne’s counter-cultures, creative free spirit and the Bohemian legacy fellows since the 1860s, that have shaped the character of Melbourne.
- According to when you’ve lived like I have. you’ve done it all. I put all my effort into living;
- The exhibition also includes examples of work or depiction from Percy Grainger, through to Marcus Clarke, Albert Tucker, the Angry Penguins. Mirka Mora, Barry Humphries, Howard Arkely and Nick Cave.
- The exhibition closes on 22nd February – entrance is free.