‘A Place With No Name’ – Living Memory
Melanie Tomlinson’s family history is rooted in the Black Country and Birmingham. It is the history of working-class family members, some employed by the brewery industry, of lives lived in close proximity to the canals in Tipton and a connection to nature and the water. She has created this mixed media sculpture based on the former pub in Tipton where her Grandmother was born. The work brings together the past and present, overlaying imagery that references fleeting memories and conversations with local people. The piece represents places that no longer have a name: a forgotten pub, areas of wasteland that used to thrive with industry, now reclaimed by nature. The work celebrates our shared personal heritage and our deep connection to place.
Ghost Horses and Guns is Melanie’s most significant solo show to date within a 25 year career, comprising enigmatic new sculptural works exploring ‘edgelands’ where the city meets the countryside, and the urban folktales that they evoke. In her catalogue essay Amanda Game comments that “Tomlinson weaves these contrasting memories into a glowing, filmic sequence in printed tin that hints at the ‘transitional qualities of unwritten places’…. The artist talks of consciously re-visiting some of the ‘magical corridors’ of her own younger self to consider those often unexpected encounters with people and places that move us forward, or sideways, at a liminal time in our lives. ‘A Post Punk Love’ for example shows teenage romance in an unexpected setting (a burnt-out Reliant Robin on a patch of waste ground). It also reveals the artist’s developing interest in new, more materially diverse sculptural forms. Large modelled clay heads push through – in a quasi-violent disruption – her more familiar, delicate printed metal box structures: structures that give detailed renderings of the riot of nature often found in what Richard Mabey memorably described as ‘the unofficial countryside’ of urban edgelands.”