ON THE SUR­FACE

Artist Melody French on lay­ers and mean­ing

South African Garden and Home - - Contents -

Tell us about your artis­tic jour­ney. From a young age, I was fas­ci­nated by comics, car­toons, colour­ing-in books and Plas­ticine. I went on to study tex­tile de­sign at the Dur­ban Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy and work in the field. I re­cently de­vel­oped an in­ter­est in paint­ing af­ter at­tend­ing a work­shop. I’m now rep­re­sented by Carol Lee and State of the Art Gallery.

How does be­ing a tex­tile de­signer re­late to your paint­ing? It’s the same love of sur­face in­ter­est, tex­ture, pat­tern­mak­ing and re­search. I’ve al­ways found th­ese trans­for­ma­tions in­trigu­ing, es­pe­cially when there’s a dis­tinct con­trast be­tween a tex­tured space and a calm area.

What do you want to com­mu­ni­cate through your work? Ex­plo­ration, ex­pres­sion and re­lease are what I’m af­ter when I’m cre­at­ing a piece. I don’t have a mes­sage of in­tent with the works; I pre­fer them to speak for them­selves. What medium do you work in and what’s the ap­peal? I use an ar­ray of mixed me­dia found any­where from art to hard­ware stores. I use acrylic gen­er­ally for colour and all sorts of medi­ums for tex­ture. Ex­per­i­ment­ing can be suc­cess­ful or un­suc­cess­ful. I just do some­thing, stand back and look, and then start ex­tract­ing or carv­ing back as the mood is re­vealed.

How would you de­scribe your style? Per­haps ges­tu­ral and ab­stract ex­pres­sion­ist. Presently, I’m ex­plor­ing the lan­guage of dif­fer­ent medi­ums, colour and mark mak­ing through ges­ture. What’s your process? I’m very im­pa­tient and need to see re­sults fast. I work with ma­te­ri­als that dry quickly enough for me to con­tinue to the next step, so this means ab­so­lutely no oil paints be­cause they’re way too slow dry­ing.

How do you re­main in­spired? If I find my­self hit­ting a blank, I turn to some­thing com­pletely un­re­lated. This helps to give me breath­ing room. Mu­sic has a huge in­flu­ence, as does soli­tude and look­ing at moody land­scapes.

Are there any artists you ad­mire or whose work has in­flu­enced you? I adore the greats such as Basquiat, Rothko and Kline, and there are many won­der­ful artists that I fol­low on In­sta­gram. I par­tic­u­larly ad­mire my part­ner Grace Kotze, also an artist, who is ded­i­cated to and has a zest for cre­at­ing.

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