Artist Q&A with Melanie Comber
Why did you become an artist?
Making things and painting became a way for me to express myself from a very young age. I hated school and found it really difficult to follow the group. In art class, I discovered that I could express myself through a process of ‘making’. I could have a world that I created; a space that was solely mine to dictate. From there I just knew that this was the way that I wanted to face the world, and focused my education towards art school. It was a search for my own voice, my own language, and a way to project myself in the world that stood outside everyone else.
How is your work different than everything else out there?
I make paintings using traditional materials, but I don’t apply those materials in a traditional way. I use oil paint and loose pigments to create large three dimensional surfaces which have a very illusory appearance. They play between painting, sculpture, and photography. On first glance the viewer is never quite sure what exactly they are looking at. The most common question that I get asked about my work is, “how is it made?” I want the viewer to move around the work and I have been known to make work that changes colour from different directions. I want the viewer to work at having an experience with my painting, and want it to surprise you.
What’s different about your current body of work?
I spent the COVID-19 lockdown unable to access my studio space so I had to find a way to adapt my process. I began painting on paper instead of canvas. It sounds like a small change, but it’s not something that I have ever done before, and it has opened up a new avenue of possibilities. It has allowed me to make works in a much faster way, and to make multiple works in the same vein at simultaneously. These works are on sale via The Artist Support Pledge here in the UK, a project launched via Instagram by Matthew Burrows studio, where artists offer their work for no more than £200 and when sales of £1,000 are reached, the artist pledges to purchase a piece of work by another artist for £200. This project has now spread world wide and has enabled me to connect with collectors across the globe at a very personal level making direct sales.
What’s coming up for you?
My work is currently in a virtual group exhibition at Wells Art Contemporary. This is a curated show and would normally be held in Wells Cathedral, Somerset, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, it is being held online this year. I am also working on a year long residency ‘From This Land’ based in Suffolk UK with The Alde Valley Festival. This project will span one year and is based on a particular section of land and events that occur within that space. It will culminate in a solo exhibition in the Autumn of 2021. I am also offering work for sale via Instagram as part of the Artist Support Pledge.
Who are some of your favorite emerging artists that no one else has heard of?
I have discovered many artists via Instagram, which is a fantastic forum for artists to connect with one another. A particular favourite, who really excites me is Isobel Smith. Isobel is a performance artist/sculptor/creator whose work deals with the idea of transformation, and seeks to disrupt the idea of the familiar. I recognise something inherently human in her ideas, feelings of desperation and often madness and trying to understand ones role in the world as a female and as a part of humanity.
To learn more about Melanie and her work, please visit www.melaniecomber.com.