Drawing influences from a range of contemporary and vintage imagery, Melanie Phelan creates bold, poster style pieces, often adorned with slogans reminiscent of film posters or advertising, which explore modern femininity.
Her love of pattern and shape is a signature of her style and is often used to build up layers on a canvas. She enjoys playing with depth through the layering process. By mixing paint on the canvas, she creates a vibrant background allowing the paint to blend and develop its own tone and pattern effects. This creates a background layer in contrast with a very controlled foreground. The process is built up over time and develops gradually as Phelan chooses to highlight, embellish or work over areas of the canvas.
Continuing the exploration of pattern, Phelan enjoys challenging the viewer’s expectations of portraiture, by creating images with a minimum of line or using line itself to create tone and definition. She describes her work as both figurative and abstract but only chooses models that are not widely recognisable. By appropriating images of women from contemporary media, Melanie aims to transform a mass produced image back into something unique.
The foundation of Melanie’s work is the depiction of women in contemporary society. During her time working closely with children, it became clear that our society is providing the next generation with a twisted sense of what it means to be female. Her current work explores the acceptable social stereotypes of femininity.
Growing up in the depths of South London where aspirations for young women could be very low, Melanie Phelan was the first in her family to go to university; she completed a BA Honours Fine Art at the University of Hertfordshire in 2003 and has been teaching children for the last 7 years. Her true love is art and since leaving university, she has continually created commissions which have travelled to places such as New Zealand and South Africa. Her experiences of background and working-life have highlighted the media impact on the aspirations of young women and girls and her work is primarily concerned with this.
Recently, Phelan has participated in a number of exhibitions this year including; the Urban Art Fair, The Lambeth Open and the first ever Rotherhithe Art Fair.