Melanie Tomlinson works with illustration and metal to create vibrant and intensely detailed sculptures and three dimensional dioramas that reflect her deep love and passion for nature. She is particularly interested in the role of traditional folk narrative to explore the complex relationships between communities and the natural world.
Personal links with Romania gives Melanie a particular affinity for its people and landscape. “Romania is close to my heart”, she confesses, “so for me it is natural that aspects of its culture find their way into my work. I like to step into different worlds to explore the unfamiliar and this sense of mystery, of “otherness”, is also present.
Melanie has developed and refined her specialist techniques for printing onto sheet tinned steel for over fifteen years. The painstaking process starts with the creation of original, colourful and highly intricate gouache paintings which serve as masters for the printing process. The metal is then hand-printed and coated before being cut, folded, coaxed, smoothed and transformed into complex narrative sculptures, mysterious worlds in miniature, dioramas and tiny artefacts giving them a jewel-like intensity of colour.
Hidden details abound – whether physical such as a handle on an automata; a secret interior container for storing treasured possessions – or narrative – a lace pattern composed of tiny animals. The details are only revealed on close inspection.
Melanie trained in illustration at Birmingham School of Art. She works from her studio at home in Birmingham and also as an artist leading participatory projects. She has won several awards for her work and her sculptures can be found in collections in this country and abroad.
“ I have a passion for the natural world and when time allows will seek out nature. I am interested in the conservation of wolves in the wild and other creatures such as bats and moths. I love poetry and regularly attend a women’s poetry group. I am interested in languages and am learning to speak Romanian”.
1994 MA Illustration
1993 BA Hons Graphic Design & Illustration 1st Class
1998 PGCE (Post Compulsory Education)
1990-1994 Birmingham Institute of Art & Design – 18 years experience of working as an artist within education & Participatory arts
Selected Projects ‘Inhabit’ with Hybrid Consulting—2010-2011
Lead artist for interiors-working in five empty shop spaces in Birmingham to create installations & with local community
‘1mile2 Smethwick’ with Visiting Arts – 2009-2011
Lead artist for 1mile2 Smethwick, the global arts and ecology project, working with the local community to explore the nature and diversity of the high street.
Craftspace – Routes to New Routes 2010 and Seeds of Change 2005-2009
Lead artist delivering art workshops for asylum seekers and refugees in B ‘ham.
Lecturer – Further and Higher Education 1994-2003
Visiting Lecturer BA Hons Crafts – Staffordshire University
Visual Communication/Illustration tutor – North Warwickshire College
Visiting Lecturer 3D Design – Newman College University Sector
COMMISSIONS: Aston Family Centre – 2012-02
Commissioned to make an artwork for the Atrium of the centre
New Walk Museum & Art Gallery – 2011
Commissioned to work with the collections and archives for six months to produce an artwork for the permanent collections and Animal Stories exhibition.
Paintings in Hospitals – 2010
Commission for second wall based sculpture to tour UK hospitals.
Paintings in Hospitals – 2009
Commission for wall based sculpture to tour UK hospitals.
Manchester Metropolitan University – 2008
Purchase of a piece for the contemporary metalwork collection.
Craftbox – 2007
Commissioned by Shropshire County Council/ Bilston Art Gallery to make new work for an interactive touring exhibition
St Barts Hospital – 2007
Commission for children’s waiting area.
Evelina Children’s Hospital – 2006
Commission of five wall based pieces for the intensive care unit.
Tate Modern – 2005
Commissioned to design a range of jewellery for the Frida Kahlo exhibition.
AWARDS: Arts Council Award – 2010
Awarded a grant to work with Natural History collections to create new work.
Arts Council Award – 2006
Awarded a grant to purchase a specialist printer.
West Midlands – Manufacturing and Advisory Service – 2006
Grant awarded to purchase and develop tooling for cutting into steel.
George Little Management International Marketing Award – 2002
Awarded at Chelsea Crafts Fair 2002 to promote work in USA.
Creative Ambition Award 2002
Awarded by the Arts Council (West Midlands) to develop new work.
Creative Ambition Award 2001
Awarded by West Midlands Arts for exhibiting at Chelsea Craft Fair 2001
Princes Youth Business Trust 2001
Start up assistance given to purchase digital imaging equipment.
Recipient of Year of the Artist Award – 2000
Awarded for a residency at the Jaguar Car Factory, Coventry.
David Canter Memorial Fund ‘1998’
Awarded the ‘David Canter Memorial Award’ for automata makers.
Tangye Memorial Prize – 1994
For innovative work undertaken on my MA Degree.
Louisa Ryland Travel Scholarship – Prague December 1994
PUBLICATIONS/PRESS: Guardian Life & Style – 18th November 2011
Living at Home (Germany) – Spring 2011
Arts Industry – Teatime Pop-up – 15th April 2011
Guardian communities – Pop-up tearooms 4th January 2011
Non-precious jewellery – Kathie Murphy 2009
Ceramic Review Things Beastly review – May/June 2008
Irish Interiors – July 2008
Vogue (Germany) – November 2007
Coast Magazine – March 2007
Country Living Magazine – Summer 2006
Feature in Collect it Magazine – April 2006
‘Lets Start at the Beginning’ Crafts Mag. – Crafts Council Sep/Oct 2006
Mexican Wave – The Observer 3rd July 2005
Lookout, Crafts Magazine – Crafts Council, Sep. / Oct. 2004
Automata & Mechanical Toys, by Rodney Pepe, – Crowood Press 2002art.tm ‘in-art-
IMAGE INDEXES: Crafts Council Photostore Register of Selected Makers
SELECTED Scottish Gallery Christmas exhibition – December 2012
EXHIBITIONS: Handwerksform Gallery ‘Summer Games’ – Hannover June-July 2012
Flow Gallery ‘From Wall to Table’ – London 2 May to 7 July 2012
New Walk Museum ‘Animal Stories’ – Leicester until 26th February 2012
Ghosts of Gone Birds, Rochelle School London – November 2011
Galerie Handwerk ‘Artistic Toys’ – Munich December 2011
Craft2eu ‘Vogelschau – Bird Show’ – Hamburg 2011
Saatchi Gallery – COLLECT 2011 – represented by the Scottish Gallery
Bluecoat Display Centre – Melanie Tomlinson and Rachel Howard- Spring 2011
Saatchi Gallery – COLLECT 2010 – represented by Bluecoat Display Centre
Sheffield Millennium Galleries – Spring 2009
The Scottish Gallery, Christmas Exhibition 2008
National Glass Centre Sunderland – Beautifully Crafted 2007
The Scottish Gallery, Solo Show – Dec. 2007
Midlands Arts Centre, Solo Show – Dec 2004