Hi Melodie and Imogen – it’s great to have you back in the Artists Open Houses for a second year. Congratulations, Imogen, on being nominated for AOH Best Newcomer last year and to Melodie for being selected as AOH Brochure Cover Artist for 2018.
AOH: Is your Open House, Bright Moon Studios, very different this year?
Imogen: It’s really not very different in essence from our debut last year; I originally wanted to create a relaxed and intimate AOH in my home, which I hope our visitors feel when they wander in. This year we are exhibiting in my William Morris-inspired living room, which I decorated to compliment the date of the house c. 1860.
Melodie and Sally (Welchman) are both really good artist-friends of mine, and it’s so easy to be inspired by their artwork in the space, because I love it so much, and would quite like to keep it on the walls all year round!
AOH: Do you have any themes running through the artists’ work?
Imogen: I originally invited Sally and Melodie to show alongside my work last year because we all have a love of folk-art, craft and texture in our works. Stylistically we are all very different, but there is a complimentary thread that unites our aesthetics. Also they are fellow mother-artists, and I think we have to support each other on that front too. I think we all like to tell stories with our work.
AOH: Imogen, would you like to tell us something about your Selkie exhibition?
Imogen: “The Selkie: Weaving & The Wild Feminine” at ONCA Gallery was my recent exhibition using textile weaving as a medium for my artwork, and it also marked my return from maternity leave and back to work. I used the folklore of the Selkie legends* to create large woven blankets using ethical South Downs wool and seaweed silk. There is a book available to accompany the exhibition, featuring narrative photography by Brighton artist Michaela Meadow, shot on location at Brighton Beach and Seven Sisters.
* Selkies are mythological creatures said to live as seals in the sea, but shed their skin to become human on land. The stories frequently revolve around female selkies being coerced into relationships with humans by someone stealing and hiding their sealskin, often not regaining the skin until years later upon which they commonly return to the sea, forsaking their human family.
AOH: Melodie, can you tell us what and who are the greatest influences in your work?
Melodie: The biggest influences in my work are pretty varied but I think that mostly it has been a mixture of twentieth century portrait painters such as Paula Modersohn and Gwen John. Illustrators and Victorian portrait photography are also an inspiration.
More recently children’s book illustrators have been an interest, my work is very much about conveying a story and it has felt like a natural progression for my work to go towards an illustrative path.
Tove Jansson has been an influence for many years not only with her Moomins stories but her adult fiction also.
AOH: What does it mean to you winning AOH Brochure cover artist for 2018, Melodie?
Melodie: It means a lot to win the brochure competition. Being an artist can be a solitary and exhausting job and you have to be thick skinned sometimes which isn’t always easy.
To have people acknowledge your work feels like a validation of all the years of hard work and reminds you of why you do it and why you love it so much.
It’s also lovely to see my work all over my hometown of Brighton, I wouldn’t wish for it to be anyway else than here really.
AOH: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your Open House this year?
Melodie: It’s lovely to be back at Imogen’s Bright Moon Studio this year; she has been a big supporter of my work as I am of her beautiful weavings and textiles.
The three of us, myself, Imogen and Sally (Welchman) are really enjoying being part of a wonderful month of sharing our work to the public.
Imogen: And this year we are teaming up with local coffee shop Fanny’s of Hanover to provide visitors with a special discount on tea and cake on Saturdays in May!