Artist in residence: Melanie RosePUBLISHED ON: 19 APRIL 2023
Melanie focuses on exploring landscape and place through painting; the tracks, traces, paths, and ancient monuments, investigating contemporary concerns including access, biodiversity, farming practices and stewardship, arguments sourced, witnessed, and explored through walking and painting.
We asked Melanie some questions about her work and why it relates to us here in the New Forest…
Can you give us a brief overview of how your practice has developed and what led you to the work you produce today?
My practice has developed out of fieldwork and research I did for my PhD which was about the landscape of the South Downs National Park, examined through painting. I was then invited to write a follow-on project as a Postdoctoral Fellow and chose to research and compare the New Forest National Park. Although these two National Parks are only 30 miles apart, they appear as if different countries, to the point I have had to change my painting medium and colour palette.
Initially, what aspects of the New Forest do you envision influencing your work the most?
Along with fieldwork (plein air painting) I will be researching historical paintings of the same landscape with the aim of revisiting some of the same places. Looking through a historical lens I will no doubt make connections as well as see how the landscape has changed. My focus is how painting has influenced the way landscape is viewed today and how through contemporary painting conversations can be triggered about our relationship and connection with specific places and nature.
How do you hope to engage the local community with your work?
I am sure locals will find me out on location painting or at SPUD and have a chat, but there will be opportunities for workshops and talks and well as online conversations through the blog. The good thing about painting is that everyone has an opinion.
Are you planning to work in any new mediums during your residency?
As a contemporary painter, materials matter and are influenced by the colour of the geology, flora and fauna as well as what is happening politically in the world. The first thing I noticed when I started to look at the New Forest landscape was how dark the ground is compared to the luminosity of the South Downs chalk. This has resulted in me changing from using chalk gesso and egg tempera on birch plywood to buying locally sourced timber from the New Forest Sawmills and working in oils. Previously I would sketch in watercolours but have had to invest in a Jullian box easel as well as prepare dark grounds for oil painting plein air.
How do you begin a day in the studio?
Whilst I am at SPUD my day will begin with Coffee and thinking as well as looking at the previous day’s work before packing my rucksack and heading off to a specific location. I will be working on the timber supports in my studio at home, these paintings will be influenced by the residency fieldwork. I am also planning on making large scale charcoal drawings using locally sourced charcoal. The initial drawings will be in my sketchbook, then redrawn on what is called Bread and Butter paper which is 101.6 x 137.2 cm.
What tools and materials will you be sure to pack for your studio space?
Rucksack, walking boots, box easel, sketchbook, prepared surfaces (ready for me to paint onto), charcoal, putty rubber, drawing ink, paints, paint brushes, water-soluble graphite sticks, oil bars, kitchen roll, water.
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