Sketcher, penman and designer, Meek produced what are thought to be the earliest drawings made on the Ballarat goldfields. He was also well known for producing maps and information about the 'history, geography, institutions and resources' of each colony.
sketcher, penman and designer, was born in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. He came to Australia in 1838, possibly to New South Wales though by 1847 he was working as a fisherman in the Melbourne area. Four years later he went to Ballarat as one of its first gold-diggers. As well as mining, Meek ran a (rather unsuccessful) general store and soda-water factory, which he depicted in a drawing, Meek’s Store, Ballarat 1851 (RHSV). Sadleir, who owned this and another sketch in 1908 – others originally in his collection having by then been mislaid – stated that Meek’s building was undoubtedly the first substantial structure erected at Ballarat, even though only a slab hut with a bark roof. His other drawing, also dating from 1851-52, showed the police camp and stables at Ballarat with a policeman standing guard over some prisoners chained to a large gum-tree in the centre of the compound since no lock-up had yet been erected. These two survivors, the latter unlocated, are thought to be the earliest drawings made on the Ballarat goldfields.
When living at 131 Johnston Street, Fitzroy Meek won a second-class certificate at the 1861 Victorian Exhibition for his pen-and-ink Map of Australia . In May the Ladies’ Benevolent Asylum committee had organised an exhibition at which he showed sketches of Melbourne’s major buildings and a Tablet of Victoria , 7 feet x 4 feet 6 inches (213 × 137 cm), containing a large amount of information on the progress of the colony and said to have taken eleven weeks to complete. Meek’s subsequent Chronological Tree of the History of Victoria 1836-1872 (LT) was photolithographed by John Noone in the Victorian Crown Lands Office and printed and published by John Paten. Noone also photolithographed Meek’s Poster Commemorating the Separation of Victoria from New South Wales (LT), printed by Hamel & Co.
Meek visited Sydney in February 1863 and exhibited several works at the Fords’ shop in Hunter Street. They included a lithograph of his Historical and Descriptive Atlas of the British Colonies in Continental and Insular Australia , a general map of Australia and a Shaksperian Memorial . The original pen-and-ink Atlas , which won Meek a gold medal when shown in the 1862 London International Exhibition, consisted of maps of each colony together with information about their 'history, geography, institutions and resources’, and a general map which showed the routes of the explorers and useful information such as steamer routes. The lithographed atlas was 6 feet (182 cm) long, 'one third the size of the original’, while the photolithographed general map was 'a convenient size’. The Shaksperian Memorial contained quotations from the 'immortal bard’, views of his house at Stratford-on-Avon and the names of all his plays; it was described as 'a masterpiece of penmanship, being remarkable as much for the originality of design as for skill and delicacy in execution’. After producing Ballarat Historical Gumtree , Meek was labelled 'the best penman in Australia’. Later Meek settled in New Zealand, where he died.