Artist Spare Room | Melissa Galley

Stone circle

Winner of the Young Cumbrian Artist of the Year 2019, Melissa Gallery undertook a Digital Artist Residency with Eden Arts for two weeks in February 2021.

"If lots of ideas and lots of time is the gold tier level of being an artist, then lots of ideas and no time is probably the next best thing (definitely better than no ideas and lots of time which generally results in watching a lot of films you’ve seen before and making far too many mind maps to be of any real use).

In January this year I found I was in that second section (lots of ideas and no time) which led me to consider the option of a remote residency with Eden Arts, rather than being within the physical space of the Artist Spare Room as the programme had run previously. My thinking was; any space to focus and create, be it physical or digital, is crucial for my practice right now.

Having the support of the team at Eden Arts was an added bonus, including conversations about the art scene in Cumbria and experiences of collaborative or interactive projects. Also as someone (possibly) prone to procrastination, having the mental state of ‘being on a residency’ (even if that was taking place from my home/office) was pretty helpful in actually getting stuff done!

I feel like it’s safe to say I made more work in February this year than I have in the whole twelve months before it. Ideas love ideas, once you’ve got as far as starting on something the process of creating becomes easier and easier!

My practice centres around cities and landscapes, often considering these themes through the lenses of utopias and sci-fi. This past year has encouraged me to broaden and adapt my practice; previously I had used walking as my main method of research, each piece built around my own interactions and journey through certain spaces. With lockdown measures in place for most of the past year this mode of initial research hasn’t been possible, leading me to reconsider how I begin a piece. Collaboration has become an increasingly important part of my practice and therefore I was keen to develop this aspect whilst on residency at Eden Arts.

During the first week I began to write short prompts that could be shared and would lead to people considering themselves and places through writing. I trialled two of these over the weeks; ‘if I were a landscape, it would be…’ and ‘if my mother was a city, it would be…’ The responses I received to these initial prompts were so varied and imaginative, ranging broadly in both theme and style.

Over the residency, and continuing afterwards, I began translating these writings into imagined visual places using the skillset I have developed as a furniture and CGI designer. CAD modelling and CGI are incredible, creative tools to have, allowing me to create surreal and impossible landscapes all from a computer. It’s the first time in my practice that I’ve properly utilised my design skillset and I’m really excited to continue to develop this project and push the possibilities of using rendered imagery further!

I want to thank all the team at Eden Arts for their support in adapting the residency form and the conversations that broadened my knowledge on key questions I had entering in to the project. I’m really excited to see how my practice will develop over the next months with all the progress I’ve made over the residency as a starting point."

Follow Melissa on Instagram here

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