Margaret Mellis, who died aged 95 in 2009, was a pivotal figure in modernist British art - she led the migration to St Ives in
from 1939 and was later a mentor to the teenage Damien Hirst. Cornwall
Since around 1978 she had been making remarkable assemblages from found wood such as parts of boats - beach huts and furniture. She described them as relief constructions and were more often than not the result of long and thoughtful meditation,guided by her preoccupation with colour and form.
|Rust & Yellow 1990|
Having only discovered her work which includes collage and paintings last year,I was immediately drawn to her abstract constructions and set out to emulate her approach. This fortunately coincided with my Father in Law demolishing his 30 year old timber garage and at once I was presented with a rich source of material.
Not only did it take time to understand the process that Mellis may have followed - one cannot just throw bits together and end up with a convincing piece - one does have to be prompted by the pieces and a notion of how they may interpret an idea.
For instance below is my current pile of found wood pieces which have been sitting in my studio for at least two months - I swear each time I look at them they tell me a different story - each time they either agree with my idea of what I want them to become or as they do at the moment they say nothing and revert back to - well just a pile of wood!
|Help me Margaret!|
Then suddenly something seems to happen and the pieces make sense and go together quickly. The pieces I did complete last year were well received and now - well now as a friend of mine said "Richard,I walk past a skip and see firewood - you walk past and see art".
I find myself enjoying the process and also the challenge of bringing together material that as individual pieces would have just disappeared with time and give them a whole new lifespan and meaning which is a million miles away from their original purpose.
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