My workshop is now almost complete! It has been a huge job re-building the forge from scratch and replacing all the important parts like the bosh, tue iron, motor and fan as well as the chimney and hearth. All that is left to do now is to fix the power hammer down in the correct position and I will be fully operational! The insulation in the new space was mostly for sound proofing but has resulted in my workshop getting much hotter than the last one! I am sure it will come into it's own in the winter months but summer time is going to be a hot time in there!
New work is in progress for the joint exhibition I am having with landscape painter Jonathan Mansfield at the Pound Arts in Corsham.
I was recently on BBC 'I Escaped To The Country' with some lovely clients (now friends) who came to me as part of the original series when they were looking to buy a property near Marlborough. The follow up programme involved them re-visiting my forge for a catch up.
I am now living in the lovely Pewsey Vale at my new farm and am working on my new forge here. The space on site is being modified for sound and warmth and I hope to have the workshop up and running very soon.
There is a great feature on me in the 6th Issue of The Holborn Magazine released November 2016 written by Daphne Stylianou and captured in great photographs by Godfrey Hatton. This issue of the magazine celebrates 'female makers, creatives and entrepreneurs that inspire and amaze' including Sophie Walker, leader of the Women's Equality Party, Brighton Gin makers, Cockpit Arts, Rosalind Griffin of Lee Sinclair Furniture and the women of Savil Row amongst other brilliant women. It's a great honour to be a part of such a group of women!
I will be moving to new premises in the Pewsey Vale during January and February 2017 which is very exciting news. This means I cannot offer courses until March 2017 at the earliest. Watch my courses page for updates on the days I will be offering for courses next year.
I am currently working on some panels for a Sir John Soane's house in Wiltshire which gives me an opprotunity to explore a more illustrative design process and incorporate the landscape themes of this year's sculpture work.
I have completed a lovely seaside handrail for a contemporary home in Bridport with a waves theme, finished in a bright zinc to contrast with the blue cladding on the exterior of the property.
I have recently installed a large rose arch/arbor at a racing stables in Hampshire and a decorative vine support structure for a private garden.
All the course dates for Spring 2016 have been fully booked, I hope to offer more courses in the Autumn/Winter months.
I just showed one sculptural piece in the Marlborough Open Studios Preview Exhibition in April this year, it was a piece in response to the main show sponsor objecting to my proposed new studio near Marlborough titled 'Untitled - 15/06441/FUL' You can read all the sad letters of objection and my response on Wiltshire Council website.
It is not uncommon for crafts people to face serious opposition to their work spaces, especially in rural areas. Finding suitable studio and working space is possibly the most difficult aspect of any craft business.
I have recently finished making 500 limited edition small seasonal greeting gifts for a local company Latchways Plc to give to their clients worldwide. The piece is on the theme of '@height' and has to be easily posted. The selected design is based on a copper feather floating to the ground supported by a stainless steel stem and base which can be packaged and posted in a tube. I have done a huge amount of fun tool making for this commission in order for me to produce 500 pieces effectively within the time frame.
I am currently designing a lovely hand rail for a contemporary home near the sea which is due to be made in January 2016.
@WithLoveProject have just published the first of their feature articales about crafts men and wwomen who are passionate about their trade. They visited me earlier this year as part of their road trip and you can see the fantastic results in photographis and videa form here. They found me via Twitter! With Love Project
I have been featured in a super on-line magazine Women In Trade which you can read on line here or you can purchase a PDF version for £3.25 Women In Trade Magazine Summer 2015 British Designers Rock Issue
Women in Trade Magazine is a stylish independent publication. The first tradeswomen-focused magazine in the UK; it simply exists to enrich lives with articles covering wellbeing, life, spotlight, coaching, self & interviews with inspirational women.
I will be showing these new sculptures for Marlborough Open Studios this July and guest sculptor Richard Bronio from New York will be joining me.
I have been finishing the two decorative panels for new student accommadation in Oxford based on brain neurons! Installed in early December 2014 at Osney Lane, Oxford.
I have recently finished a beautiful 'Fern Gate' for private clients and a gate for a water mill.
I am currently designing some decorative panels for an entrance wall fronting new student accomodation in Oxford For Cherwell College.
Plenty of cousre dates to fill this month and I am designing some exciting work for a large housing development in Purton for Taylor Wimpey.
Just in case you didn't catch it, I was the 'Mystery Guest' on Chris Evans' BBC Radio 2 breakfast show on 26th September. It was a great opportunity to talk about the craft of blacksmithing and where you can learn blacksmithing. I was lucky to be able to enthuse about my craft on national radio and was delighted that Chris appeared to have a genuine interest in what I had to say.
I have just installed my large wall mounted commission for A2Dominion in Oxford.
This piece is my interpretation of the River Isis wrapping around the outside of a complex gate house to new student accomodation just off Cowley Road.
Following on from a successful Open Studio exhibition, I now have my Ruby Red Ring-A-Roses on display at http://www.theroyallandscape.co.uk/news/2013/2013/08/sculpture-for-the-garden-at-the-savill-garden-windsor-great-park-1-september-31-october-2013/
This summer I have been working really hard on the large wall mounted commission for A2Dominion in Oxford. The work is my interpretation of the river Isis that flows around north Oxford and I have wrapped it around the new gate house building that is at the entrance to the new student accomadation being built just off Cowley Road. I have been aiming at completing 5 metres per week and am just about on schedule. Only 5 metres to go now!
I have just returned from a fabulous two week artist in residence project at Ark School JHQ Rheindahlen, Germany. This amazing project happened through a lot of commitment and organisation by the school and military and you can read all about it on my blog!
October 2012 - Thank you Swindon Round Table for buying one of my snails to raise money for The Childrens Liver Disease Foundation when you came for a talk and demo at the workshop!
August/September 2012Horspath Driftway Imprint sculpture is now installed at The Slade, on the corner of Blackstock Close and Horspath Driftway, Headington in Oxford! Pop along and see how many objects you recognise in the bronze casting.
May 2012Melissa is now working on the bronze wheel imprint for Oxford City Council. Forging 40 x 20mm bars into tapered spokes is pushing the 1938 Pattinson Bros. spring hammer to its max!
Starting the year on design work for a potential new commission, Melissa has also been working on a small garden gate in her freezing workshop. She is also about to start a magical fantasy tree for Copnor Junior School in Portsmouth and a forged steel and bronze sculpture for The Slade in Oxford. There will be community involvement in this piece, more information to follow.December 2011 Melissa has been on working on new pieces for the small exhibition 'Foursight' at Puthall Farm Old Stables in December. New unique bronze 'Jennywrenvils' and forged steel 'Flightpaths' will be on show alongside other work. Look at the Exhibitions page for more information. These pieces can be seen throughout the year at the gallery, please contact me if you would like to visit.
October 2011The piece Melissa has been working on is a complex glass topped table for a local client. The table has a forged base with pedestal legs and a flowing design that supports the weight of the glass top.
Melissa has recently finished working with St Francis Church of England Primary School in Swindon where she made a 2.5 m cross for the new extension that forms the entrance to the school.Working with children from all ages, Melissa developed an idea of creating a cross that depicted the childrens journeys to school. Translating these memory maps into a working design was an exciting challenge and the finished cross incorporated roads, roundabouts, bikes, cars, traffic lights and repetitive marks showing the differnet journeys culminating in the arrival at school. Images to follow. World Forging Championships, Stia, Italy. 1-4 September 2011
Melissa has recently returned from Italy having competed in the 5th World Forging Championships in Stia, Italy over the last week.
Representing the UK on behalf of The Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths who funded the trip, Melissa was part of the only all woman team, including Wendy Alford of Norfolk and Michelle Parker of Worcestershire. The team were also supported by The Jinny Quinnell Memorial Trust.
They started forging on the first night of the biennial celebration of blacksmithing in temperatures of over 45°C next to the forges, the team had 3 hours to produce a completed piece of traditional forging along the theme of ‘Evolution’ working in front of the massive crowds that had gathered for the opening live forging event.
Working with two forges and two anvils and tools they took from home, the team created a flowing piece depicting man evolving from fish; a fish tail and wave, ripples in the sand and a figure forming from the waves was forged from the limited stock sizes available for competitors. The finished piece was a strong contender for the title and stood out among the rest of the work in the class which comprised of forty teams from across the world and was won by a group of blacksmiths from the UK.
Following the team event, all of the UK women’s team went on to compete individually with the first prize being won by Michelle for her excellent dinosaur reading a book. The women had a separate class from the men which is unique to this event as it is the World Forging Championship. There were six entries in the women’s class and 104 entries in the men’s class. Blacksmiths came from Italy, UK, France, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Ukraine, Austria, Czech Republic, Russia, Israel, and the USA.
The whole town is taken over by blacksmiths from all countries, trade stands and exhibitions live forging and drawing contests go on for four days and are supported and celebrated by all.
More information about this event can be found at: www.comune.stia.ar.it/biennaleferro/eng
PUTHALL PARK SCULPTURE SHOW
The First Puthall Park Sculpture Show was first held in June 2004, then June 2006 which was supported by the Arts Council England.
In response to the lack of opportunities in the area for showing larger scale sculptural work, Melissa devised and raised over £23K of sponsorship for this large outdoor exhibition.
Set in the farmland and gardens at Puthall and showing selected work from 40 different artists each time. The exhibition attracted 4500+ visitors over three shows and was featured on Meridian News in 2006. Each exhibition also provided education opportunities for schools though artist’s workshops and talks and workshops for teachers.
This exhibition was supported over the three shows by: Arts Council England, Kennet District Council, Tin Horse, Wylye Valley Vineyard, Quintons, Nude PR, Dolby Laboratories Inc, Hiscox, Armadillo Coffee Co. and Arts & Business. It would not have been possible without the kind help and support of the sponsors and friends.
Quotes from these exhibitions: ‘First show I’ve seen, really inspirational and enjoyable- thank you’, ‘A delightful display and so much to see, we thoroughly enjoyed it’. ‘Brilliant, lovely to see a diverse range’, ‘Outstanding! A great joy for the soul and free to boot’, ‘Wonderful, just as lovely as last year, can’t wait to come again’. The last show successfully moved to November for 2008 and was enhanced by the dramatic change of colour through the forest and downland landscape.