Dean Melbourne

Having seen Melbourne’s work at Transition Gallery in ‘The Dark Wood’ I am incredibly inspired by his content and colour use.


The Whistler (A Meeting), Dean Melbourne 2017

What draws me in?

There is darkness, mystery, ritual, and an edgy feeling about his work.  The images are sexy and challenging but in an alluring rather than grotesque way.  I find I want to see more, to engage further with them.  They are potent and exciting and bursting with energy. They are like a sub-conscious memory or a primal knowledge that needs remembering.

Contemplating Melbourne’s work has had a very big impact on considering what my own practice is about.  If I could choose to encapsulate an energy into my work it would be this kind of thing.  In my contemplations about the intention behind my work I considered that I wanted to create hope and an uplifting energy. Seeing that Melbourne has brought darkness into a positive way into his practice, I then contemplate how to do that myself too.  I am in two halves, a channel for great darkness and also a mirror for light.  One without the other is too extreme (in my case) but I like the tantalising element in Melbourne’s work.  Somehow his work brings in the darkness but in a way that elevates.

My own response to his work feels a crucial learning for my own practice.  I don’t really understand it as it is an instinctive sub-conscious one, but I know I need to explore it further.  To that end I have been in touch with Melbourne and asked his permission to create a body of work as a parallel project in response to his own work.  For each of his paintings that I see I want to create an answer that describes my experience of that piece of work.  My idea is that it is my ‘I am not Dean Melbourne’ collection.  It is work inspired by him so the paradox is that in some way all the work is about him and is him because there’s an energetic cord linking my work to his.  I have no idea where this will go but I find the possibility incredibly exciting and as I have Melbourne’s permission to go ahead I am very keen to get started.


The image above is my own response to The Whistler (a meeting) – painted without reference to the image, simply from my own memory and feelings about it.  This is obviously more a painted sketch than anything but it came very naturally, as though it was waiting to be expressed as a completion point to my feelings about the painting.

What do I need to do now?

  • formulate some kind of process to follow when creating a response to a piece of Melbourne’s work
  • think about colour palette – am I going to mirror his colours or find a theme of colours that are my ‘response’ palette?
  • what is my intention? Need to be very clear about this, about the structure behind the work.  Need to have a framework to build on.
  • scale – need to understand what the scale of my response is – which may only be possible to know once I have started working. Is it that I create something exactly the same dimensions?  Or do I make a small, reverential response?

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