Melissa Campbell

Melissa Campbell, University of Brighton Faculty of Arts

Fine Art Printmaking

What work are you exhibiting in the Graduate Show 2012 - Up and Beyond?

Vanishing Point

I am interested in memory and disappearance and the power of photographs. Using traditional printmaking techniques, alongside fingerprint powder on found photographs, I have considered their materiality and the traces of information they contain. My current work, ‘Vanishing Point’, contemplates the value we place on photographs, and the feelings of reassurance, intimacy and comfort we hope for when we use them as tokens of remembrance.

My background

I worked in a lithographic printers, running a press, before becoming a full-time mum to my three children. After I divorced, I started evening classes at the local college, which led me to a foundation course at Camberwell College of Art, which led me here to study printmaking.

Whilst on foundation, I attended a weekend course in relief-printing at Tate Britain, which was run by Timo Lehtonen. I had forgotten how much I loved ink! I had looked at printmaking degrees in London, but they were all scaling back in traditional printmaking processes, in favour of digital based work, which didn’t inspire me. Timo suggested I apply for the printmaking degree at Brighton, which seemed a completely impossible idea at the time. However, once I looked online at the course details, I was excited at the range of possibilities and processes the course offers. I saw the degree show and was impressed by the diversity of the work and the combination of old and new technologies, plus, I have always loved the idea of living by the sea!

It’s been hard work, but I’ve really enjoyed it. The first year inductions introduced us to the different processes, and then we were free to experiment and test the limits of the materials. I have loved investigating the different languages involved in print, and how the combination of precision and chance can reveal interesting results. The course promotes an independent way of working, which I found very exciting. I have enjoyed spending my days with interesting people who are as curious about art as I am.

The tutors have been amazing, and were always available if I needed help or guidance. I was encouraged to look critically at my own work, which was painful to begin with, but has ultimately given me the confidence to test out new ways of working, rather than playing it safe. The technicians are great too, and always found time to explain technical options and processes to me.

The resources are fantastic- screen-printing, etching, photo-etching, lithography, relief-printing and digital printing. The department doesn’t stand still either- the workshop manager is constantly investigating new processes and ways of working.
I have been able to work in other areas of the university too, experimenting with sandblasting onto glass, and testing sequences in bookbinding.

There have been lots of talks by visiting artists and the chance to discuss my work with them, along with group tutorials and crits, all of which have helped me to develop a thick skin!

What would you say to anyone considering this course?

I would highly recommend studying printmaking at Brighton. The freedom to experiment and discover your own language, along with the strength of the teaching staff, and the facilities, make it an amazing opportunity.

What has been your greatest challenge?

Relocating to a new place, with three children, was a massive challenge.
Luckily, Brighton is a great place for families and we’ve all settled happily here.
The other big challenge has been having no money, but that’s the same for all students.

What do you plan to do after graduating?

I’ll be going on to the Photography MA here at Brighton. It’s another strong course, with plenty of room for investigating and experimenting, I’m really excited.
Over the summer I’m taking part in exhibitions in Brighton, Bath and London. I’m also organizing a group show with friends from the foundation course, which we hope to hold at Camberwell in the Autumn.



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