ON THE SURFACE
Artist Melody French on layers and meaning
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.