Personal statement by Melody Hawtin B.A.Hons
I love the words from The Book of Isaiah
‘be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid’.. Why say more?….
My inspiration for painting is my everyday journey.
At the age of 13, I worked with David Frier, a well known west country photographer, carrying cameras, and visiting hunts and weddings…Photography is a major part of my work, with sketches helping to capture a moment.(My painting technique is usually in oil, with layers of paint applied with brushes, and knives in my studio or on location).
- In the 80’s I was in Brighton ….Yet every spare moment I returned to Exmoor … I loved the sea and bohemian life style meeting fellow artists. Friends helped my commercial career designing for The Brighton Festival, local restaurants, advertising for Goodwood, portraits and simply sitting on Brighton beach sketching the holiday makers…..
A special highlight of my life in Brighton was working with blind first and second world war veterans at St Dunstan ‘s…I so enjoyed their company, humour and bravery… They taught me to dance, to study form and much more.
It was also in Brighton I found myself introduced to the Church of Christ the King (CCK) through an art exhibition. My spiritual life came into focus and I knew the path I wanted to take. During this time, one late evening while waiting for late diners I sketched… The customer when leaving asked me…“if you could do anything what would you do?”… I was certain….PAINT. He said, “Don’ t waste your talents”.
Following this I applied to study at Winchester School Of Art, where I gained my B.A. in Art and Art History, I loved it! The history gave me a deep appreciation of technique and the message within my own paintings, while the many centuries of art and artists inspired by a Christian heritage filled my imagination.
My interest in the Bible has continued and become a major influence, it seems to free my mind when reading it, enabling me to really feel what I see’.
At church in Winchester, I met David and his four young children in 1997. A busy new life meant enjoyable work with Bell Fine Art in Winchester had to end. Yet home making proved very creative and children growing up…Like seeing a painting take shape.
We opened Melody Art from Alresford in 2003 with much encouragement from my brother Richard who runs Discovery safaris on Exmoor. David learned the printing process and enthusiastically helped me and worked on his own artistic photos. As the business grew we were given a chance to rent a lovely old Malthouse in the centre of Alresford, near Winchester with Simon and Mark from ‘The Naked Grape’, Wine merchants.
We are now in a lovely gallery on the High Street in Porlock, Exmoor and a gallery/studio, located with other Artisans in The Tannery. Looking to the very hills I walked when my journey began. ‘Prego’ our Collie is twelve and seems like us, to have found a new lease of life.
A great deal has happened since we moved to Porlock…
Exhibitions in Chelsea, New York and Florence, one of my favourite cities and where I studied as a student and where David and I spent our honeymoon.
The opportunity to adorn the ‘ End of life` facility at the Stroke unit at Williton Hospital was wonderfully encouraging, giving me a feeling of life satisfaction…
My dear friend William Elmhirst, whose parents founded Dartington College of Arts, began collecting my work … Meeting him and Chantelle helped my career a great deal .. we miss his joyful stylish, warm character. He kindly said of my work “Daring, Courageous and Non Conformist`”.. I have his words on my studio wall which both remind me of him and to encourage myself. All my patrons are part of my journey and have often become precious friends.
My Work is affected by life.
Painting with gorgeous colours always lifts my spirit, yet through these years while my dear Dad was ill my work took on a different dynamic. While at my lowest I dug in deep to my faith painting heavenly, hope filled paintings. These paintings grew in challenging years with layers of feeling, pain and paint. My paintings are my spiritual journey and loss changed my vision in many ways. I remember walking for the year after Dad died and also missing our Collie Prego. Walking alone Colour was lost to me it was actually quite interesting as the only Colour I was drawn to and really saw was Green.. During the next year I gradually got my colour back and began to see again.
I’m in a place of peace again now… We have a new member of our family, Monet a little brown and white Cockapoo.. He is so loveable and a great companion for my walks.
My Studio is still my favourite room in the house, full of memories and paint. I love the little garden I’ve created where Dad’s roses have been replanted alongside my own. I’m busy in my studio preparing for a solo in Northern Ireland at The Oriel Gallery in Clotworthy House and part of Antrim Castle Gardens in their new space which is stunning, having had over 5 million pounds spent on it. It’s a wonderful opportunity presented by a casual glimpse in my gallery window by the curator while on holiday in Exmoor. I hope to present my spiritual journey as a retrospective with work I created when I was 17 to the current day. I’ll also be including my poetry which is very much part of my romantic, Expressionistic art style.
My painting classes have gone well here in the last 8 years, especially my evening classes which introduced me to the amazing creativity of scientists! I’ve a few lessons booked, yet nowadays I’m focusing on my painting and poetry and finding a peaceful place to simply watch creation sway in the wind.
Through emotionally family loss I’ve found knitting with new friends in our local pub very rewarding. My knitting is simply Colour I’m attracted to make into garments, I not one to follow the rigours of a pattern and find myself making up my odd designs rather like a painting. I’m also bellringing at our local church, we have a wonderful time. I learnt to ring the basics when I was twelve for a year or two, after 45 years I’m in a way reliving a childhood memory and joy. It’s rather dangerous so keeps me concentrating …..I’ve also a glockenspiel in my studio Along with a couple of guitars, and a beautiful violin. I’m planning on learning to play them properly one day
I think we are up to date … enriched by David, who continues to be my greatest encourager and critic. His own photography continues to be my favourite art.
Thank you for your interest….. Do drop in and see us, perhaps some scones will be waiting….. with lots of Somerset clotted cream and jam….. nothing better…..
Artists who have inspired my work
- The Fauves and Impressionists – For their childlike freedom and magnificent use of colour.
- Jacob Van Ruisdael – His windy, emotion filled landscapes.
- Nicolas Poussin – His use of landscape to portray philosophical theories.
- Chagall – His vision of love and utopia within a volatile world.
- Picasso – His application of paint!
- The Exmoor Landscape;
- William Cowper;
- The Bible;
- My Mum;
- Greg and Ruth Haslam;
- Keith Bell;
- Lizzy Baxter;
- My husband David and everyone who cheers me on.