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Its "debut" originates from the far-sighted tenacity of its "founder" Angelina Melia and the artistic patronage  that has characterised her existence. Angelina Melia's first steps were taken in the 1980s when, by making her house available to the public, she organised cycles of conferences and debates on various topics of interest, with the sole aim of offering opportunities for discussion and stimulating the creative abilities of young people, convinced as she was that they were the new forces at work in the small town (which was hers by birth), and that only through the discussion of a series of projects and proposals could they be equipped with the necessary tools to trigger processes of transformation and reorganisation aimed at enhancing and enriching the artistic and cultural heritage of the area. In fact, she argued that young people's openness to free movement and modernisation had to rely on suitable arguments to break the isolation in which they found themselves in order to foster a better understanding of the rapidly changing reality.With the involvement of other members, she first set up 'The Walkie Talkie Club' and then, in 1987, founded the cultural association 'AM International' (acronym for Multicultural Activity). Since the presentation of the first exhibition "Logos Mediterraneo" (curated by Andrea La Porta and Toni Ferro), the idea of creating a permanent public art collection developed in the mind of Mrs. Angelina, in a territory (the Stilaro Valley), particularly marked by important traces of Magna Graecia and medieval history, but lacking in references to contemporaneity. This is how the AM International Art Gallery of Bivongi was born, baptised by the President of the Regional Council, Rosario Olivo, by the Regional Councillor for Tourism, Ubaldo Schifino, and by Walter Pedullà, former President of Rai-Italia.Through an articulated programme of exhibitions, Angelina Melia soon became a meeting point for artists from different cultural backgrounds. 

Angelina Melia

Australian by training, Angelina Melia, who had known emigration at an early age, set up the first national exhibition of Aboriginal art in Bivongi: "Graphics from the Christensen Fund" by the most famous Aboriginal artist of the W. A. Jimmy Pike. In 1989 she took part, representing the Region of Calabria, in the International Exhibition of Adelaide and the following year she made Aboriginal art known again in this part of Calabria with the exhibition "Desert Dreaming" by Lyndsay Bird Mpetyane. In 1993, as part of the regional programme of Italian-British youth exchanges, she organised a reciprocal confrontation between young artists from the Accademia di Belle Arti of Catanzaro and the College of Art & Design of Wigan (Manchester).

In 1994 it was the turn of Bivongi (RC-Italy) and Midland (W. Australia) to organise and take care of the twinning, where she brought a documentary exhibition at the University of W. A. the documentary exhibition on Tommaso Campanella "De tempore et occasione scribendi" (edited by) Armando Brissoni.

Another international event took place the following year, when in collaboration with EACLAS (Association of Australian Studies), she organised the conference Mediterranean Peoples and Commonwealth Nations: Connections and Relationships in Bivongi. In the same year, she proposed to the Municipality of Stilo the institution of the "Francesco Cozza" art gallery, of which she became president, extending the experience of "Utopie - mostra in progress" to the town for the start-up and establishment of the first nucleus of another public art collection. These years were all marked by an uninterrupted series of exhibitions of international artists, the epilogue of which is condensed in the creation of "The Great Disc".  The work, currently 3 metres in diameter (made in terracotta by Elio Furina and Cesare Sartori) and which has become the emblem of the Bivongi Art Gallery, includes the graphic contributions of 18 artists (including the leaders of the 'Visual Poetry' school such as Arrigo Lora-Totino, William Xerra, etc.). The "Great Disc", the brainchild of Luciano Caruso and Mario Parentela, has an open spiral structure and is ready to receive further contributions from other artists who, feeling part of a global community, want to be involved, sharing the common theme of "the origins of writing" in the creation of an endless work.

Another culminating event, fruit of the determined and involving energy that Angelina Melia know how to nurture and propagate, was the foundation of 'cultural embassies' abroad. The presentation in Perth and Sydney of the contemporary art documentation centres project dates back to the year 2000 and the contextual launch of the Doc-Art Gallery centre in The City of Bayswater, which will soon be identified as a showcase for Calabrian and Italian culture in the Perth (W.A.) urban area. The premises made available and managed by AM International by the administration of the city as the seat of the Doc-Art Gallery of Maylands, now house the permanent collection of art created there through the annual programming of the exchange of "Artists in Residence" developed between Calabria and Australia as a partner for over fifteen years that has characterized the "Doc-Art Gallery" as a reference point and meeting place for local artists and / or guests. An exciting experience, in many ways, which has led to the creation of two distinct art collections: one in Perth, where works by artists from Calabria (mostly) but also national artists are permanently exhibited; the other in Bivongi, composed of works by Australian and Oceanian artists, which is among the most conspicuous (in its genre) of the most prestigious museums in Italy.This project has also made it possible to include, to date, over two hundred artists in the museum, including both established and emerging young artists. Just as an offshoot of that activity were also the Calabrian literature seminars offered to Italian language teachers (curated by Pasquino Crupi) held at the Universities and Institutes of Perth, Sydney and Canberra, thanks to which, as well as the Master's degree courses for Italian language teachers abroad (organised at the University for Foreigners of Reggio Calabria), Pasquino Crupi's Summaries and Anthologies of the History of Calabrian Literature are now used in those Universities for teaching Italian.

Events, therefore, that have produced, beyond the ephemeral and episodic act of holding, also lasting traces for the dissemination of authors' works beyond their geographical boundaries.This was also the case for the international conference Italian diaspora after the Second World War, organised in Bivongi in 2006, which saw the participation of 18 speakers from as many universities in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Great Britain, who then adopted the printed proceedings as study handouts in their respective institutes.Equally significant was the presentation of the works of Mimmo Rotella at the National Museum of Perth, presided over by the Regional Councillor for Culture-Education, Hon. Saverio Zavettieri; as well as the participation (1990) in The Fremantle-Italian Twinning Festival (W.A.) with the exhibition of two works (one of paintings and the other of drawings) by Andrea Cefaly junior, and another exhibition of sculptures by Italietta Carbone. This event was also attended and marked by the dissemination of the artistic and monumental heritage of Calabria.

In 2008 Angelina Melia (on her own behalf and in the name of the Art Gallery of the AM International Association), in order to give a further guarantee to the trust and generosity shown to her by so many authors and artists, set up the Art Foundation, tying the acquired art collections to the patrimonial endowment: an act aimed at protecting the works but mainly intended to prevent and safeguard against the possible division and dispersion of the artistic heritage.In the same year, AM International was also enriched by the acquisition of a specialised library on the literature of Commonwealth countries, which one of its honorary members, Professor J. Bernard Hickey (known to all as Prof. Hickey), had acquired. Bernard Hickey (known by everyone as the Ambassador of Australian culture in the world), bequeathed it posthumously to the association as a token of his affection and esteem for Angelina Melia and the many cultural initiatives they had organised together between Italy and Australia in collaboration with the Cà Foscari University of Venice and the University of Lecce, where he had been a lecturer.If we were to limit ourselves to mentioning the titles of the exhibitions held, the list would become so long as to tire most people; but we could not fail to mention at least the events that have certainly left significant traces for the cultural and historical-monumental dissemination of this territory.It is worth quoting Armando Brissoni's words on the subject: "- He was an energetic person and he wanted that in the town of Bivongi there was not only a geographical name, or resurfacing historical past memories of mining activities of high value, but that culture and art in general could be promoted and supported even in the small village, in the shadow of mountains and refreshed by springs, as happens in large or medium-sized cities ... " in memory of Angelina Melia and her personal inclination that would not have allowed her to circumscribe her life within the narrow confines of a small town like Bivongi and that, by nature, she would not have wanted it to be so.

01- Vista fabbricato museo Facciata Nord-Ovest su strada provinciale

Continued on the Fondazione per l'arte website