Track and Trace

Yesterday afternoon I went back to the forest to trace where my Good Pennies might have ended up. I left at home the location reference photographs I’d taken the previous week, to force my brain to try and track my Good Pennies from memory. To an onlooker I appeared to be doing some kind of bizarre movement exercise. One moment I would be staring motionless at a tree only to turn quickly and take three paces towards another. Later, I’d be slowly leaning as if I was doing Tai Chi. I did quite well, only forgetting the location of one of the ten Pennies. As I revisit over the coming weeks I’m hoping this memory exercise will become easier but I am sure to doubt myself as the Pennies gradually disappear.

After only seven days, two were missing from their original location. The others were all pretty much in situ where I’d left them. Some have been pecked at by birds. Others are gaining a coating of mud and are being slowly eroded by last week’s volatile weather. The photographs here compare Good Penny #5 from week 1 (on the right) with week 2 (left).

In my head I’ve planned a month of weekly visits to the Good Pennies forest. I want to keep visiting until they are all missing or decomposed beyond recognition. I guess Mother Nature will decide the duration of this project.



Found and Lost

A few years ago I found myself wandering down a leafy urban back lane on a regular basis to get home. I found an old key on the ground which I placed in the gaps between the bricks of an old wall nearby. As the season progressed this key was joined by found pennies, lolly sticks, twigs, and magpie feathers. I always wondered how long these items would stay in their new homes. I wouldn’t have to wait too long to find out. Just over a year later the wall was demolished and replaced with something new. My found trinkets were lost forever.

Back to the here and now and I’ve finally got to the stage with my Good Pennies that I feel I can release them into the wild. They are now very much at large in the local forest. Nestled among stumps and mosses my ten Good Pennies have become tree sprites; entities with energies unknown, guiding and beguiling, tempting and reassuring. I will be revisiting the locations in a week’s time to see if anything has changed. They are to be found, or they are to remain lost – destined to return their clay to the earth. I’m interested to see what state of decay they will be in as time progresses.

The two ‘placing’ experiments are very different in nature. I’m not sure my Good Pennies will stay around as long as the keys in the wall. As the surface of the white clay decomposes they will become more visible in their leafy locations and I think they’ll be picked at by curious creatures. I want to visit once a week and photograph what I find and consider what has been lost.


…and this is why I can’t have nice things

In an attempt to make Good Pennies out of Bad Pennies I have been distracted somewhat. In fact I’ve totally lost my way. I just can’t do it. I just can’t make nice things happen in my art. Small cute smiles become contorted whilst twinkles and dimples become deep, distorted chasms.

I just can’t make nice art.

Every now and then I try and then I realise why my art always has a feel for the uncanny. The antithesis to my own easy going and sunny disposition is my art. The thing that keeps me outgoing and happy is making twisted dark creatures out of virtually nothing.

It’s better this way.

Imagine if this situation was reversed. Imagine I was a psychopathic monster making sunny happy scenes with my art.


Accept the facts. Make the art. Scare the world. Be happy. These are my Good Pennies because they take the bad out of me and bring me good feelings.  Find your kittens and your landscapes somewhere else. This art is for me and not for you.

Failure is Part of the Process

I’ve been growing my art over the last few weeks; literally. I’ve taken the clay pennies that I created the other week and growing them in a mossy patch in the garden. These Good Pennies are prints from the 13 Bad Pennies I created at the end of last year.  The original Bad Pennies were released into the world as part of the Love Tokens and Bad Pennies  exhibition curated by Collect Connect.

Releasing Bad Pennies into the world unsettled my karma a little. Why would I release these little things of badness when I wish no ill will to the world? To restore the balance, I plan the release of my Good Pennies to work in harmony with the world. They’ve spent 12 days outside growing moss and decomposing a little before I take them further afield.

At least that was the plan.

I didn’t bargain on Mother Nature doing her thing so efficiently. We’ve had a fortnight of heavy storms here so the air drying clay I used has decomposed a lot faster than anticipated. Rather than a slow-growing project which I can photograph over time, I’ve ended up with something a lot faster than expected. The faces of these Good Pennies are all but destroyed and the moss has worked its way into every crevice. All the paint has deteriorated and these mushy lumps of white are all that is left.

I’m not deterred by this failure. Failures such as this are part of the process of learning. I’ve already thought of a few workarounds which should slow down the rate of decomposition. I simply need to remake the original Good Pennies and go again.


Heads Up!

With a new designated studio space I’m really starting to make headway with this new artwork now. I’ve been following on from my first impressions from my Bad Pennies into Good Pennies (see blog entry from March 4th) and creating more in a similar vein.

The original four Good Pennies from the other day are no longer in the studio. Instead they are undergoing a secondary process outside in the garden. This project will be growing, both literally and figuratively, over the coming weeks. I’m not sure how long this will take to figure out but I am determined to grow with this artwork and get myself back into a creative head space.

My art used to start with a photograph and grow from there. Over the last twelve months my creative process has ended in photography instead. I think this will still be the case since I have no desire to keep these tokens. I feel the need to retain only photographic evidence of their existence.

I am collecting, evidencing, and witnessing rather than creating with an aim to exhibiting.


Three Months Later…

Hello, my name is Melanie. It has been three months since my last blog post. Yeah, that’s about right. Three months with no art created; a barren wasteland so populated with unproductive malaise that I just gave up trying in the end. Why try to force creativity where there is none? What is the point of sitting there making something that nobody, least of all me, will appreciate, want, or understand?

Something snapped that couldn’t be fixed. External factors meant relaxation and contemplation were impossible. Weathering the storm became the only goal. Nothing seemed possible. Until now.

So what has changed? Everything and nothing. I am in a different place physically and mentally and I am definitely getting back to being my previous creative self. It’s been tough trying to work out how to get back into the swing of things after being so long in the doldrums. I’ve started in the only place I can think to start and that is to pick up the thread I was working on in December and see where it takes me.

Back on December 2nd I finished creating 13 Bad Pennies , three of which featured in the Love Tokens and Bad Pennies exhibition which showed in and around London last month. In turn, I used images from this series to create art for the 6x6x2019 show at Rochester Contemporary Art Center. This will exhibit later in the year in upstate New York. So far, so good, for exhibitions in 2019 but that’s not what I’m looking for. I honestly don’t mind if these are the only exhibitions I show in this year. Art is a manifestation of the creative spirit within, and that is the primary concern for me with the viewer being a secondary issue.

To challenge my creative malaise, I’m using the remaining Bad Pennies to create Good Pennies. I’m making facial imprints from the Bad Pennies in fresh clay and using their indents to create new faces. I’m attempting to turn a token representing something bad into something good. I’m tipping my perspective on its head and questioning all the aspects of what my art means to me. There are no goals, no restrictions, no deadlines, and no exhibitions for this work. My only aim is to start making again on a regular basis.

I need to give myself time for me; regular, constructive, creative, time. I have a new designated studio space which should help with keeping myself on track. Even if I’m moving my art forward slowly, at least I will be moving.

I’ll let you know how I get on… in my own sweet time.


Good Pennies and Bad Pennies



Writing the Diatribe

A lot of my art happens behind the scenes these days. I’m often working with Stone Letter Media to create videos for external clients so my art comes into use really well for prop making.

I’ve made a distressed cloth blindfold for [the project fell through but it might happen in another form]. This involved me spending time on the beach in the rain undoing all my hard work by trashing the cloth using the natural abrasive materials I could find there.

Meanwhile, I’ve been making some creepy willow masks for [can’t tell you yet] to feature in a video for release 2019. I have some other props I’m thinking of making with the excess willow but I’m still formulating how to go about that at the moment.

With so many things I have to keep under wraps what can I share? Well, recently I was asked to create some lettering for the latest Malum Sky official lyric video release Diatribe. After working my way through several designs we settled on this. Working in capitals felt more forceful than working in mixed case or lower case. The emphasis was enhanced by going over the lettering several times to create a shaky, unstable, more angry look. The pacing on the page had to be right too so that it would be easier to port across to digital. All these handwritten words and phrases then needed to be scanned into the computer and all traces of the background paper carefully photoshopped out.

Yes it would have been a lot less arduous to create/use a standard font but I really wanted the words in this lyric video to feel more cranky, with more life and aggression. There needed to be enough similarity between the letters to be a recognisable motif for the song but with enough subtle differences for it to stay interesting throughout. Malum Sky’s Diatribe is more gritty and personal this way, more focused and directed at the viewer.

Don’t take my word for it. Have a look yourself over on YouTube by clicking HERE.