The Wolverhampton Museum and Art Gallery are currently showing works by Birmingham based artist Melanie Tomlinson in an exhibition titled ‘Melanie Tomlinson: Ghost Horses and Guns’. The artist has also worked with the Hope Community Project who are based in the Heath Town area of Wolverhampton to create a second exhibition titled ‘Reflections of Hope: A Participatory Project with Melanie Tomlinson’. The two exhibitions are on display until the 14th October 2018, uniting the work of a Midlands based artist, together with a project that helps local people based in Wolverhampton.
Melanie Tomlinson: Ghost Horses and Guns
Melanie Tomlinson’s personal exhibition ‘Ghost Horses and Guns’ presents nine mysterious and incredibly interactive new artworks. These works explore the concept of ‘edge-lands’ meaning where the city meets the countryside. The artworks all have accompanying urban folk tales written by the artist, which can be read at the exhibition. These tales are based on Melanie’s own childhood memories and events she witnessed in the Midlands.
One of Melanie Tomlinson’s artworks on display is titled ‘The 5.00 am Beasts that Roam the Streets’ (see above). The detailed sculpture is made with the use freestanding, horizontal elements. It shows a small girl peering out from her window to witness a chaotic and ominous scene of the streets and park at five o’clock in the morning. The sculpture has two different scenes at either end. In the viewpoint shown above, the scene includes bare trees, deteriorating fencing, glue sniffers and ravens. In her short tale, Tomlinson describes her scene as a place to ‘confront your fears and meet the beasts that roam the streets’.
Reflections of Hope: A Participatory Project with Melanie Tomlinson
Opposite Melanie Tomlinson’s personal exhibition, the ‘Reflections of Hope’ project is also on display. This exhibition partnered with the Hope Community Project, a voluntary organisation in Wolverhampton which supports those in danger of ‘slipping through the net’. The project’s main aims are to establish trusting, meaningful relationships with those in need from all age ranges. The exhibition came to fruition after a series of workshops hosted by Melanie, which explored key themes such as identity and belonging. The exhibition is split into two groups, the Petals Group and the Boys’ Group.
The Petals Group
For this group, women from the local area were able to take part in the Petals workshop. Taking inspiration from decorative trays in the Wolverhampton Art Gallery’s japanned ware collection, they were each able to create intricately decorated framed mirrors, using various metals such as brass, copper and aluminium, which they designed for their homes. The project allowed a unique opportunity to learn about Wolverhampton’s art collections, whilst working in a supportive environment.
The Boys Group
In this group, boys and young men were able to participate in Melanie Tomlinson’s Hope Project sessions in order to create self-portraits. These striking pieces are made in copper, brass and aluminium. The self-portraits are designed to reflect the character of the person whether through facial expression or the use of their favourite brands’ logos. This valuable opportunity was provided to allow the development artistic skills whilst at the same time increasing confidence and a personal sense of achievement.
Curator’s Comment: Carol Thompson
This is Melanie Tomlinson’s largest solo show to date and Wolverhampton Art Gallery is delighted to have worked in partnership with her to develop the exhibition. With the help of an Arts Council grant, Melanie has created nine enigmatic new works that are at once beautiful, curious, humorous, and strangely unsettling. They combine Melanie’s acute observation of hidden details in the ‘edge-lands’ of Birmingham and her memories of growing up there, with her exceptional skill as an illustrator and her unique way of creating interactive sculptures.
Many of the pieces conjure nostalgia for the post-Punk era of the 1980s and a sense of neighbourhood that seems to have slipped into the past. Engaging with the Wolverhampton community has been an important part of Melanie’s work and we’re so pleased with the amazing pieces that the Hope Project participants have produced.
Our visitors are loving Ghost Horses and Guns and their feedback has been absolutely glowing! Many say that they have never seen work quite like this. In fact, reactions are so positive that we are considering touring the exhibition to other venues.
On display between 30 June 2018 – 14 October 2018
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Time for one more read?
If you enjoyed today’s post, you will enjoy our recent post on ‘Artists in Focus: Celebrating Museums and Wellbeing’ at The New Art Gallery, Walsall.