Walking has always been an essential part of my practice. Exploring parts of Suffolk and documenting these wanderings on film is a joy. Recent work has seen me examining architecture that interrupts the landscape. I document my surroundings and experiences with nature through expired and alternative films, cross processing, experimenting with in-camera double exposures and mixed media photographic collage and I constantly return to the Cyanotype printing process. I overlap art, design and printmaking techniques with my analogue photography to enrich the work, this leads to experimental and unpredictable outcomes. I love the process of doing, undoing and re-working I am rarely satisfied with a simple photograph.
Many Lands Make An Escape
[Fridge Award Shortlist]
35mm prints collaged together to form a new landscape scene this was made early on in the first lockdown when my mind needed to travel and escape.
These pieces I feel are unique and exciting I hope my work takes risks and intrigues people. I try to examine the land in new ways I find my surroundings so stimulating here in Suffolk. These piece show a cross over between art and photography that blurs boundaries and makes anything possible.
Nebular [Black Heart Prize]
kodak gold film (souped in green tea and lemon juice) shot in the garden using my sproket rocket camera that exposes the whole of the film negative, no editing or enchantment has been added at all!
A Purple Kind Of Day [Fridge Award Shortlist]
This portrait is part of a series of works I have made of a gay man that I follow on social media platforms. He recently began experimenting with make-up as a form of expression. The photographic images he produces captured my visual imagination. As a gay man I am interested in the range of images of male sexuality and gender stereotypes we are presented with. Kyle uses his social media as a way of exploring other possibilities for masculinity. The images he produces are the result of transformational make up and using of technology through filters and colour changes to images.
This was the first time that I had made such small portraits. I liked the concentrated effort of making something that was jewel like in colour and intensity and still being able to make a statement about the sitter.
They have been very successful.
Most important is the impact that the making of these works had on Kyle himself. He told me that he’d always been insecure, and that the paintings I'd made and the love and success they received made him feel so much better about himself. This perhaps is the reason I’m most proud of these works. I have literally improved someone’s life.
I class myself as a part-time artist, as I have a “real” job in order to pay the bills, but at the heart of it I am an artist and I am completely focused on pushing myself to see where it takes me. I spend every spare moment working on my craft and developing my style, and someone times it can be deflating when I've put in over 40 hours on a piece that only gets a few likes online.
You guys opened my eyes though and made me think a little differently about my work. I'd never really thought about it until you asked the question. "What are you most proud of?", that's all it took for me to realise that I'm not bothered if a painting doesn't get a standing ovation when I post it online. If I can sit back and say that I'm proud of the time, effort and love I've put in to a piece then it's good enough for me, and I can say without a doubt that these particular pieces put a smile on my face and I'm beyond proud of them. So thanks for helping me truly realise that I take great pride in my work.
My love of animals and the joy they bring me inspires all my paintings. The driving force behind every decision I make is to tell the animals story, I explore the history of the subject with thorough research before approaching a new piece and consider what the species has endured in order to convey on canvas what the animal cannot.
I’ve created a variety of artistic styles which allows me to present the subject in a different way, I’ll employ a different technique depending on what impact I’m hoping to achieve. My work either shows an energetic acrylic background which reflects the mood of the species in the piece, using soft pastels to introduce the animal and bring the work together. The use of the pastels in these mixed media paintings allows sections of background to push through the animal on display, further emphasising their fragility. Or I’ll work in a pop art style, choosing bold acrylic paints that pull focus on the subject matter so the animal in each painting is thought provoking. Human elements are sometimes added to the animals character giving the viewer a sense of connection with them.
Although I use a variety of materials and artistic processes for each new piece, my methodology is consistent throughout and is linked by recurring concerns for endangered species. I’ve found that working in this way allows me the freedom to experiment with creative approaches to constantly expand my abilities and create work that resonates with all animal lovers.
Rainbow Raptor [Gone Bad Prize]
The bald eagle was once in danger of becoming extinct, but after a 40 year battle this bird is no longer endangered with their conservation status being updated to least concern. This is amazing news and is a real testament to all animal conservation projects currently ongoing throughout the world, with determination we can help make a change and preserve many wonderful animals. The best way to celebrate such brilliant news, is to celebrate the bird itself.
When I think of joy and happiness I think of colour. Colours have a way of evoking great emotions and symbolism with us, you see the colour red and you may think of danger, something hot, or a warning. Present someone with a rainbow and they may see hope and positivity…so my bald eagle has been given a colourful makeover, which it rightly deserves.
What Big Teeth You Have [Fridge Award Shortlist]
For this piece I focused on the great white shark, known for their size and ferocity they’ve been featured in several films throughout the years as something to be feared. Although there have been many attacks on humans by these sharks, they’ve been classed as mostly mistaken identity. Despite this fact, this fish remains a force to be reckoned with. However, they’re classed as vulnerable, a word you wouldn’t necessarily associate with such a powerful animal, and I wanted to explore this a little further.
I want to evoke a sense of danger with this piece, with the sharks teeth bared and seeming to be jumping out of the painting, this screams a warning…don’t get too close. Yet in order to help this species we must get close, we must monitor their numbers, put regulations in place to protect them from being hunted and to give these sharks a more positive future. To drive this message home even more, I’ve used bright playful colours for the background, I’m saying this sharks outlook doesn’t have to be so bleak.
Aa a lifelong people-watcher, I have often found myself watching the audience instead of the performance or a crowd of supporters rather than the match. I am intrigued by people’s interactions with one another and the world around them.
Through my lino printing I hope to capture and celebrate the connections between people; both the everyday and exceptional.
The Northbank [Fridge Award Shortlist]
This handmade linoprint is inspired by a goal scored in front of the iconic Northbank, Emirates Stadium London.
I don't follow football. I am, however, married to a life-long football fan so there is a lot of sport on the TV. It was after being subjected to another Match of the Day 2 viewing that I was inspired to create this print. I saw the net moving in slow motion and the fans, in their various stages of celebration behind, and knew I wanted to capture something of that emotion and chaos behind the net.
I very rarely sketch out a detailed image before I start carving, preferring to keep things loose and open to change. It was only after I embarked upon the print, therefore, that I realised the emotion I was attempting to portray was going to be on faces less than 1cm sq, carved, through a net, in reverse as always, with my trusty pfeil tools.
I am really proud of this piece of work - I overcame many fiddly (sweary) moments when carving it and stuck it out to result in a print, with a retro feel, that I'm really satisfied with. Simplifying the players in the foreground, to draw the eye through the net to the fans, I hope to make them as central to the image as the sporting action itself.
I am a mixed media artist that doesn’t want to be trapped in a creative box. I use my artistic practice as a way to let go of control and explore freedom and living in the present. By putting my feelings onto canvas and letting my emotions and hands take over, I often enter a flow state and use any tools and colours within reach, creating vibrant mixed media paintings full of depth and release.
I enjoy using colours outside of the mundane and powerful subject matters to capture the viewer’s attention. Catalyst wedges, high flow acrylics and big paint brushes are my favourite things to use, as each one brings the opportunity to create impulsive movements and marks. I rely on them to create backgrounds and then pull through colour values and shapes at a later time in my process to develop detail. By using more fluid and uncontrollable mediums such as spray paint and high flow acrylics, I am able to accept my materials in their natural state, use any “mistakes” I make and create uninhibited pieces that demonstrate the beauty of experimentation over perfection.
This is the first finished piece I created in mixed media. I poured my heart and soul into creating it and filling it with emotion with every mark and paintbrush stroke I made. It was a labour of love but it is everything I wanted it to be and more than I could have ever expected. Aside from knowing what I wanted the female to look like, the whole piece was unplanned and free. No feelings of conforming to art norms or worrying about what a client thinks of it. It’s a representation of how my art can look when I simply create exactly what I want to create. Full of layers, power and emotion.
Breathe [Fridge Award Shortlist]
A colourful mixed media painting created to depict the feeling when you take a deep breath after a long day. Underneath the painting is the word “breathe” which was written before any paint was applied, describing exactly how I felt as I painted it: like I needed to breathe so deep and let go. It is an ode to mental health and breathing through your struggles. It symbolises calmness through all the chaos around us.
Each painting has significant meaning behind it, the purpose of me painting them is to express something.
I feel proud of finding my creative way through these paintings. After using art to express some difficult emotions, I discovered a style of artwork that I really like (galaxy style) and now use as a recurring theme for my art. From representing an emotion, celebrating a relationship, expressing a loss, I paint in a positive way for myself and others.
Rooted [Fridge Award Shortlist]
This painting has been done with acrylic and blackest black paint. I created this recently to express beginning a journey to learn of my ancestry and histroy and enjoyign having a mix of cultures.
The Longing [Gold Heart Prize]
This piece holds a lot of meaning personally as it was a way to express the longing to become a father and the ache of this difficulty. The galaxy style and vastness of the universe representing deep feeling. This painting then began the style I create my artwork in today. It started it all!
Mel Sproates is a queer theatre-maker, artist and zine-ster based in Newcastle, UK. They make joyful, silly and educational work which aims to help represent the underrepresented, platform marginalised people’s voices and to advocate positive well being for the queer community. Mel adores zinemaking and is really interested in using zines as forms of empowerment, collaboration, self healing, activism and a way to create awareness of issues and experiences that are not usually explored in the mainstream. Their work is inspired by pop culture, cartoons, comedy, 80s movies and trans/non-binary experiences, and they have self published their own zines such as Hail to the Zine Baby and Stay home stay queer.
Indiana Jones And The Temple of Queer
[Fridge Award Shortlist]
This piece was created for The Queering Middlesbrough Town Hall Exhibition by Curious Arts and The Auxiliary Project. It is an illustration of Indiana Jones and his boyfriend, made using fineliner, permanent markers, paint pens, pencil and paper cutting. It is exploring LGBTQIA+ joy, love and representation through a re-queering & retelling of classic 80s movie posters, aimed at making people think about representation or the lack of for LGBTQIA+ people in the mainstream media.
I am most proud of this piece as it was my first ever commission, and I was incredibly nervous to start with. But after creating the piece I had such an overwhelming sense of joy and pride, which is fitting as that is the feeling that I wanted others to have - not just me! When I was first working on my ideas for the piece, I only knew that I wanted to make something bright, bold and most importantly - queer. It is very rare that you get to see a film poster that is full of queer joy, and that is something I really wanted to achieve with this piece. I enjoyed experimenting with different mediums, the paint pens being my favourite as they definitely captured those bold and bright cartoon colours that I had in my head. I am also really happy with how Indy’s face turned out - I feel like I captured his cheeky essence, (and I especially enjoyed researching Harrison Ford and drawing his face for hours…). The Indiana Jones movies mean so much to me, especially growing up as a young trans kid who wanted to be Indiana Jones and drew him all the time. I wanted people to be able to see that queer people deserve to be the leading characters in movies, and other queer people to have representation that would help them to feel empowered and seen. Finally, I am especially over the moon with my art as at the time it was exhibited (June 2021), actual real life Harrison Ford was in Newcastle filming for Indiana Jones 5! Unreal. The thought that he was in the vicinity of my artwork made it feel very special. I felt like I’d summoned him with my big gay art… I’m sure he would have loved it as much as I do.
I like to use parody and wordplay to achieve humour in the image. This image reminds me that you don’t have to run, jump or cycle to have a healthy heart.
Blow your beanz
[Fridge Award Shortlist]
Digital Art made using a photograph, a printed label, photoshop elements 09 and procreate.