Interview with Photographic Conceptual Artist Melody Thornton with Oliver Norris
Come and meet the artist Melody Thornton at the New Artist Fair's 'Summer Exhibition' 13-15 September 2019
What is your background and where are you from?
I’m originally from Northampton but spent 16 years in London where I attended university and then stayed. I now live in Yorkshire.
How do you classify your work?
I consider my work conceptual as it is very 'idea' driven and I don't always know where it's going to end up. I’m a frustrated painter - can't draw for toffee. Most things I photograph because I can't draw them.
What challenges do Photographic Artists face in the art world?
I feel Photographic artists struggle to be considered 'real' artist, possibly because sometimes it can be very immediate. If I tell people I am an artist the follow up question is nearly always "what do you paint?" We can also produce many editions of an image, which makes people sometimes under value the end image. I also feel people assume we just didn't put 'the hours in' that a painting to sculpture can take which is totally untrue.
What is the main message of your work, what does it aim to say?
The main message of my work is really that I want the viewer to question the ordinary, like reflections and everyday objects. I want the viewer to try to work out the message or idea I'm trying to get across, sometimes it’s better than my original idea!
Is there a common reaction to your work?
The most common reaction to my work is the head tilt to one side - I love it. I find people either love it or hate it. I’ve made women and men cry and I've made some people think its a load of old rubbish - all valid points.
Where do your ideas come from?
A lot of my ideas come from dreams and taking a bath and day dreaming but some come from ideas about sexual politics and any issue I think is unfair or needs addressing. I recently did a series of images on the horror of FGM – I was totally compelled to address it in a way that made sense but not too graphic.
Who are your inspirations and influences?
I have many influences but one of the main one’s, strangely, is the performer/actor Divine. He just mesmerized me with his confidence and presence – I remember thinking from a young age, I want to be like that. He certainly gave me my body confidence.
I am inspired by many female artists including Cindy Sherman, Marina Abramovic, Louise Bouourgeois but the 2 women that set me on fire are Tracey Emin and Sarah Lucas, they just made me see what was possible in art. I am also a huge fan of Francis Bacon – probably my overall favourite artist.
How have you developed your work since your started out?
Developing my work since I started out has had many difficulties. Back in my 20’s I was a lazy artist and didn’t take advantage of many opportunities that were thrown my way – just took it all for granted. Had shows in Berlin and London and didn’t push myself enough. I then took a break for about 15 years to have a family, I just couldn’t or didn’t want to produce art while I had young children but slowly I’ m coming back but the internet happened in those 15 years so I’m almost starting from scratch. My art and the way I think has thankfully stayed the same.
What do you have planned for the New Artist Fair in September?
For The New Artist Fair I am bringing some new and some old work, some self-portraits and ‘My seven Jars’ which is very conceptual. Probably the two bodies of work I am most proud of.
What is your ultimate goal as an artist?
My ultimate goal as an artist is to never run out of ideas and still get excited when I have a new one also I just want people to love my work – simple.