An exhibition by artists' Melanie Wilson and Heidi Shedlock
Both artists dealt with ‘the object’, both delivered insight into female identity, tradition, history, connection, journeys, pathways and both stories were presented from a women’s perspective.
Attention to sensory and tactile elements of crafting and working with the hands were a key element shared by both artists. Techniques like frottage, monoprint, soluble transfer, resist, stenciling, sgrafitto, impasto, embossing, encaustic painting coupled with traditional techniques like oil painting and glazing were explored – all this created a mysterious feminine language – an emotional engagement between the artwork and the artist.
The works have a strong sense of narrative… a personal mapping… a story… (…a long story!). Both dealt with material as metaphor and with themes relating to tradition, histories, sexuality, status, values, culture, social, emotional and spiritual issues. Both Melanie and Heidi have a history dating back 25 years, a special dialogue of teacher-pupil, to mentor, to friend, to contemporary collaborative artists… (…a long story!). Both artists attempted to seek meaning in connections which are often unintentionally forged and inevitable.
Melanie’s work dealt with 12 selected brides, the object being The Bridal Dress. Dresses are fused with textural detail and subtle imagery, densely layered but still revealing a sense of transparency and fragility – ambiguous in nature – resistant yet permanent. The Dress becomes suggestive of tolerance and sustainability. The metaphoric value in medium (i.e. wax wrap, bubble wrap, cling wrap, gauze, tissue paper, old maps, paper mache, table mats, tapestry, table clothes and burlap) has a fusion of protective covering and layers. The Dress, rather than being a literal embodiment of the fairy tale, offers insight into the passion of union and the pain of separation.
Heidi’s work celebrates the banal, humble objects of everyday life which link us to our history and amplifies The Domestic Object as holding a special significance. Ancient still life paintings depicted in tombs were offerings to the ancestors; still lifes were painted as celebrations of seasons and of life. The objects, images, patterns and textures we choose to surround ourselves with, become a reflection of our tradition, our history, our story and create a sense of presence, of having been there at a particular moment in time. Objects and patterns of everyday life which to others have little importance hold links to family, history, heirlooms and culture which in turn becomes a record of an individual and important story. The object is viewed from an aerial perspective forcing the viewer to engage with the image more directly. The initial use of fabric, textile patterning and stitching which have then been painted into, altered and documented in Heidi’s work has strong links to families, histories and traditions. They are a celebration of the creative influences of mothers and grandmothers who before us have crafted, stitched, sewn … and created their own stories and records of existence, which is where our story is begins.
“There’s always a story behind everything… but behind your stories there is always a mother’s story… because hers is were yours begins.” Mitch Album.
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