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Tuesday, June 11, 2013


(Work by Melanie Wilson)

Opening at Gallery 415 this evening is an exhibition titled (...a long story!) featuring work by Melanie Wilson and Heidi Shedlock.

Both artists deal with ‘the object’, both deliver insight into female identity, tradition, history, connection, journeys, pathways and both stories are presented from a women’s perspective. Attention to sensory and tactile elements of crafting and working with the hands is a key element shared by both artists. Techniques like frottage, monoprint, soluble transfer, resist, stencilling, sgrafitto, impasto, embossing, encaustic painting coupled with traditional techniques like oil painting and glazing are explored. All this creates a mysterious feminine language – an emotional engagement between the artwork and the artist. The work has a strong sense of narrative… a personal mapping… a story…. (….a long story!). Both deal with material as metaphor, dealing with themes relating to tradition, histories, sexuality, status, values, culture, social, emotional and spiritual issues. Melanie and Heidi have a history dating back 25 years, a special dialogue of teacher-pupil, to mentor, to friend, to contemporary collaborative artists…(…a long story!). Both artists attempt to seek meaning in connections which are often unintentionally forged and inevitable.

Melanie’s work deals with 12 selected brides, the object being The Bridal Dress. Dresses are fused with textural detail and subtle imagery, densely layered but still revealing a sense of transparency and fragility – ambiguous in nature – resistant yet permanent. The Dress becomes suggestive of tolerance and sustainability. The metaphoric value in medium (ie wax wrap, bubble wrap, cling wrap, gauze, tissue paper, old maps, papier-mâché, table mats, tapestry, table clothes and burlap) has a fusion of protective covering and layers. The Dress, rather than being a literal embodiment of the fairy tale, offers insight into the passion of union and the pain of separation.

Heidi’s work celebrates the banal, humble objects of everyday life which link us to our history and amplifies The Domestic Object as holding a special significance. Ancient still life paintings depicted in tombs were offerings to the ancestors; still lifes were painted as celebrations of seasons and of life. The objects, images, patterns and textures we choose to surround ourselves with, become a reflection of our tradition, our history, our story and create a sense of presence, of having been there at a particular moment in time.

Objects and patterns of everyday life which to others have little importance hold links to family, history, heirlooms and culture which in turn becomes a record of an individual and important story. The object is viewed from an aerial perspective forcing the viewer to engage with the image more directly. The initial use of fabric, textile patterning and stitching which have then been painted into, altered and documented in Heidi’s work has strong links to families, histories and traditions. They are a celebration of the creative influences of mothers and grandmothers who before us have crafted, stitched, sewn … and created their own stories and records of existence, which is where our story is begins.

The exhibition opens at 18h00 this evening (June 13) and runs until June 28 at Gallery 415, 415 Umgeni Road in Durban. More information on 031 309 6401 or visit