Melissa Pretty Contemporary Crafts
My current body of work explores the contradictory relationships betweens animals and humans, as sources of food and materials. I am constantly drawn to subjects that I am unfamiliar with or those that are considered ‘abject’ or ‘disgusting’. I draw on what I have researched in order to produce something more legible. My focus is on sculpture and installation art, often featuring unconventional forms, materials and processes. In particular, I am prone to mutating and abstracting forms in a way that I feel is beautiful, not necessarily gruesome.
The duality of life and death is a current theme within my work, I find beauty in the stillness of death, particularly dead animals and their relationships to humans, whether that is through butchery, road kill or animal testing. Within the world there is an underlying stillness apparent, and yet movement occurs. It is the movement that accentuates, diversifies and endlessly recreates. My goal is to produce work that jumps from the space and makes its viewer feel something intense. I want to reveal that we are surrounded by flesh in our ordinary environment, many products are made out of dead animal skin, but since it is disguised, and the process by which it has come to be what it is, is deeply hidden, you don't really register that your leather jacket or shoes are made of a dead animal.
In particular I am drawn to the skin of animals, my interest in skin as a material is so intense because in it I see expressed concretely the subjects that are important to me: life, pleasure, sex, pain, injury, ageing, death and any number of more abstract matters, like identity, gender and vulnerability
There is a certain melancholy beauty in skin tones, their bruised colour palettes, pores and hair. Wounds, though they may leave lasting scars, are for the most part superficial and will disappear from the bodies which they mark, bodies which in turn will disappear as the process of death and decay overtake them.
The boundaries between life and death are played out each and every moment as wounds are incurred and wounds heal, as skin cells die, are shed and are replaced by fresh cells. Much of my installation work features carefully sewn together animal hides. The result evokes the animal as a fragile container and suggests both loss and repair. This act of fixing something broken, repairing the skin after the animal is gone, strikes me as both pathetic and beautiful.
At Falmouth we’ve got talent, and we like nothing better than showing it off. Throughout the year, graduates, students and staff are involved in exhib...