Move Over Paris – Art Reveals Adelaide’s Alter Ego
After spending her artistic youth based in the south of France, working in the markets, travelling through Europe, Asia and the Middle East, you might think the Adelaide art scene might seem a bit small for painter and art lecturer Melanie Brown.
But from her studio in the funky west end of the city – two doors down from an art supplier and next door to a café that seems to have been transported from New York – Melanie says Adelaide has plenty to inspire.
Her latest series of paintings, to be shown in the well-respected Murray Bridge Regional Gallery in October, shines a light on a little-known quirky Adelaide community – the punk inspired “grl” roller derby gladiators.
“Art can function as a barometer on the world around us. For me, painting is a way of thinking, where I get to re- present things in ways that are alternate or less ordinary. I’m interested in people and in what lies beneath the surface” Melanie says.
The roller derby series, meticulously painted using both the techniques of the Old Masters and contemporary processes, to bring the triumphantly athletic bodies out of a dark canvas. This series also draws on Melanie’s fascination for tone and light – particularly skin.
By day the roller derby grls are professionals, partners, wives, mothers married women and then they come together to take on these new personae, emerging out of the local community, she says.
“Flat track roller derby is a sport that is organised and run by women – it’s a tough sport, played by brave women who wear their bruises as badges. It’s highly disciplined and although they don’t dress up in character as much as they used to, the women have these alter egos,” she says.
“The roller derby series draws on recurring themes and devices in my work such as cycles, the juxtaposition of binaries such as motion and stillness, to speak of things not being as they seem. Roller derby can also be a great metaphor for notions of the body as a medium for risk, self-creation, and human endeavour,” Melanie says.
And just like the roller derby, the city from which it emerges has a creative energy in which art is thriving she says.
“It’s a very different place from the place I left a as a young person – it’s cosmopolitan, it has so much accessibility and fresh produce. There’s an element of possibility here,” she says. The Adelaide Central School of Art within the fabulous new Glenside cultural precinct, there is has a lively artistic community and there are artist initiatives, studio and pop up gallery spaces throughout SA.
“There are so many ideas that I have percolating– it’s just the time factor to develop them. It starts with a central idea, at times, a performance piece, then I do some thumbnail sketches and photoshoots which you need to capture that movement. I might also use some Photoshop techniques but from then on, it’s all about the paint surfaces,” Melanie says.
Just as the Inuit people famously had hundreds of words for snow, a good portrait has myriad skin tones, she says. It’s also about a moment or fleeting gesture that captures an aspect or essence of the spirit of a person.
It is these elements Melanie will also bring to the Loreto springART portrait competition in September where she is one of three feature artists vying to have their portrait of Nova radio personality, Dylan Lewis, chosen as the winning Star Portrait.
“It’s certainly a challenge for me as a tonal realist who paints in fine detail to try to capture him in a sitting of a few hours, but it’s good to try – it will be an interesting experiment,” Melanie says.
The Star Portrait competition, featuring portraits of Dylan Lewis painted by Melanie and Adelaide artists, Sophie Hann and Angas Hamra, will be judged at the Loreto springART exhibition, presented by Lipman Karas on Saturday 7 September at 2pm. The exhibition is open to the public from 10.30am-4.30pm at Loreto College on 7-8 September.
The Star Portrait event will be launched at an event at Argo, 212 The Parade Norwood on Thursday 25 July at 6.30pm-8pm.
WHAT: The Star Portrait launch for the Loreto springART exhibition, presented by Lipman Karas
WHO: Three Adelaide portrait artists – Sophie Hann, Melanie Brown and Angus Hamra, Nova breakfast co-host Shane Lowe and their celebrity sitter – Nova’s Dylan Lewis.
WHERE: Argo, 212 The Parade Norwood
WHEN: 6.30-8pm Thursday 25 July 2013
Loreto springART show will be held at Loreto College, 316 Portrush Road, Marryatville from September 6-8, 10.30am-4.30pm