Crafting Enterprise meets Made in the Middle

Emmie and Melanie Tomlinson

"I like Melanie Tomlinson’s work because it is extremely interesting, bright and colourful. Her work  reminds me of natural outdoor materials and looks like it should be in a museum because it seems so fragile." Emmie

  • Melanie 2.jpg Autumn Fieldfares, 2010. Hand printed steel. Photo credit: Bogdan Tanea
  • Melanie Tomlinson Ghost Horses and Guns - interior photosf.jpg Ghost Horses and Guns, 2016, interior. Hand printed tinned steel sheet, found object, paper, wood, satin. Photo credit: Richard Battye
  • Melanie Tomlinson 1.jpg Ghost Horses and Guns, 2016. Hand printed tinned steel sheet, found object, paper, wood, satin. Photo credit: Richard Battye
All Students

Is your work meant just for decoration or is it more for entertainment?

To be honest neither.  There is quite a deep meaning to the Made in the Middle piece, 'Ghost Horses and Guns'. It does have an element of movement that you can interact with, so I understand that can be seen as entertaining.  The piece is about a childhood experience, crime in the woods and the place where urban landscape meets rural.  Because the piece is very decorative I understand that it has a decorative feel to it.  But the illustrations that run around the bottom of the piece depict graffiti, a scrap yard, run down conservation area etc.  I liken my work to illuminated manuscripts from long ago.  If you look at illuminated manuscripts you have a central image, but then in the borders you have all sorts of unusual imagery, some of it slightly strange.  I am aiming for a similar effect with this piece.  At first sight you see colourful horses but then when you look more closely the imagery is strange and not quite what it seems.

Did you find any materials and recycle them?

The only part of the 'Ghost Horses and Guns' piece that is recycled is the black metal structure that the paper leaves are within.  This is an old lantern that I took apart, filled with paper sculpture and put back together.  All other metal within the piece is not recycled.  There is a tradition for artists to use old tin cans and biscuit tins and cut then up and make art from them.  I do not do this, I print my own illustrations onto the fresh, new sheets of metal myself.

Did you want to make particular parts of the work stand out more than others and if so why?

I suppose the horses are the main element of the piece but I wanted there to be layers and textures.  My pieces are complicated and the viewer needs time to discover what they are about.  For instance the piece is also a box.  You can lift up the glass lantern and there is a hidden box below (see third image).  It wasn’t possible to show this in the Made in the Middle exhibition, but a lot of my pieces are also boxes too.  So in answer to the question: there is always a main focal point e.g. the horses, but, like in the margins of illuminated manuscripts, there are a lot of other elements and symbols to discover.