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. We now have a very affectionate brown and white Cokapoo called Monet, he encourages us to go out and explore our surroundings.
2010 … 2020
The next step in the journey.
My artistic career has had some exciting twists and turns since moving to Porlock.
Exhibitions in Chelsea New York With Agora Gallery were very successful. Angela and her wonderful team worked fervently and professionally to reflect my work at its best, I’m so very thankful for all the help they gave me.
My patrons are integral to all I do, whether it’s a commission or adorning their beautiful homes with my work. It’s such an honour to give pleasure with my work. One of my favourite patrons, William Elmhirst, late of Dartington Hall has a large collection within his estate. William encouraged me enormously with his kind words, saying my work was ‘ Daring, Courageous and Nonconformist’. I have his quote on my studio wall.
Florence and London too have been an adventure with new patrons and friends spurring me on. Opportunities come from many sources, Internationally. However, I love to roam over Exmoor and the West Country with our little Cockapoo Monet, so I take opportunities seriously, they need to take root in my heart, hence my visit to Northern Ireland…. Being an artist is a life’s work .. not a moments, so it’s important to Exhibit in the ‘right’ places, – it’s part of my spiritual journey…. It keeps my sparkle, and we all need to sparkle even on the dullest days!
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.
- Marc Chagall – His vision of love and utopia within a volatile world.
- Picasso – His application of paint!
- J.M.W. Turner – Turner walked and painted on Exmoor, his amazing Ariel perspective can be seen to have similarities to the Exmoor coastline ..Studying his work is like seeing home. His watercolour, his vision and his faith constantly ground yet astound me.
- The Exmoor Landscape
- Poetry, especially Christine Rossetti, and William Cowper.
- The Bible
- My Mum, Greg and Ruth Haslam, Lizzy Baxter, Keith Bell R.A. Debs Bird and David Hawtin my husband. My family and friends whom I love.