Rosie Melville is an artist from Kent, whose work includes sculpture and drawing. From a scientific background, she retrained as an artist, graduating with an FdA in Fine Art Practice in 2014. She lives in Rochester and participates in exhibitions as well as undertaking commissions and working within the community.
The subject of physical and mental health is at the center of Rosie’s practice, along with her passion for natural history collections and curiosities. She uses a wide variety of materials throughout her works to express emotions and physical sensations. It is a specific understated use of materials that stimulates disquiet and curiosity in the viewer, causing them to question what they see. The meanings of materials, and the interpretation of the forms used is left open to the viewer. Her work typically alludes to the body, her fascination in collections of discarded personal possessions, and the stories carried with them.
Engaging others is an important part of Rosie’s practice. In addition to making sculpture, she works in the community, supporting others to make Art. She has witnessed the effect of Art to make positive changes to people’s health and wellbeing and considers it a vital path towards better mental and physical health.
An interview with Rosie…
1. Introduce yourself
I’m Rosie Melville, I’m in studio 3 at Sun Pier House in Chatham, and I’m a Fine Artist.
2. Describe yourself in less than 50 words.
I mostly make small scale sculpture, usually incorporating found materials
I have a real passion for materials, so I use a wide variety in my work. I’m always learning how to use the next material, testing it’s limits and potential.
3. Where did you grow up and where do you live now?
I grew up in Strood and live there now, after being back and forth to a couple of places.
4. When was the first time you became aware of art and how old where you?
Very young – some of my earliest memories are of being in my dads workshop at home. He’s been a potter for 35 years now, so I’ve always been surrounded by art.
5. Talk us through the artwork that you make, what materials and themes etc.
I’m very interested in shape and form, and I’m usually drawn to materials that lend themselves to creating and manipulating structure. I’ve used lots of materials to achieve that: chicken bones, found objects, wire, wax.
I make a lot of work about mental health, and there’s usually an element of natural history in my work too. I’m fascinated by natural collections, museum displays and organic shapes.
I love making work that makes the viewer think twice about what they’re seeing, and to make them question the work. And this comes into my use of materials, like wax and plaster.
Another aspect of my practice is working with people in the community. I’ve seen the difference it can make to someone when you can support them to make their own art. It really makes a positive change to people’s health and confidence, and of course, their overall wellbeing.
6. What artwork are you making at the moment?
At the moment I’m working on some slip cast work, as well as going back to crochet. This time I’m looking at invisible illnesses, like mental health, and physical illnesses like pain and fatigue.
7. What do you love about having a studio here? (At Sun Pier House in Chatham).
I really love that it’s quiet and peaceful here. I find there’s a real sense of calm when I’m working here. I think it’s being by the river – being close to nature. And I like working alongside other Artists and being part of a community.
8. Do you have any exhibitions or shows coming up?
I’m hoping to submit some work for the invisible illnesses exhibition that is being put together by Zara Carpenter and Matt Bray – that should be here at SPH in August next year (2017).
9. Explain more about what you’re doing at Medway Open Studios & when you’ll be open
This year will be the fourth time I’ve done open studios. I really enjoy it – for me it’s most about meeting people, having those interesting conversations and interactions. I find it quite inspiring and always come to the end of the 2 weeks with more ideas of what I want to do next.
I really enjoy visiting other artists too, because it’s always interesting to see how other people work and what they’re up to.
I’ll have the beginnings of my new work to show this year.
10. Finally, Do you have any tips for young budding artists out there?
As an artist, you’re always learning, so be open minded. Take opportunities and enter all the exhibitions you can, make regular contact with other artists. Take feedback on board but don’t compromise your work for others. Most of all, no matter how hard it gets, just don’t stop making!
Interviewed by Frankie Noller, July 2016