Melinda Young

Melinda Young was born in 1972 in Amersham, England and arrived in Australia in 1976. She currently lives in Sydney, New South Wales. Young has a Master of Visual Arts from Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney. Since 1997, she has participated in over 120 exhibitions in Australia and overseas, with recent solo exhibitions in Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne. For the past three years, she has also been committed to the ongoing collaborative exhibition project unnatural, Naturally with Lauren Simeoni, which to date has been shown at galleries around Australia, New Zealand and USA. In 2008, Young received the inaugural Jewellers and Metalsmiths Group of Australia, NSW Profile Award for an established artist. Her work is held in the collections of the Art Gallery of South Australia and the Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Norway, and has been included in publications including The Compendium Finale of Contemporary Jewellers and 500 Plastic Jewellery Designs. She is currently a sessional lecturer at the College of Fine Arts, University of NSW, Sydney.

Melinda Young visited Canberra on the ninth anniversary of the 2003 Canberra bushfires. She spoke to a broad cross-section of people from the Canberra community, all of whom had been affected by the fires at the time, and were dealing with the ongoing aftermath. Community consultation added significantly to Young’s independent research and provided touchstones from which the work developed. Key phrases, recurrent themes of conversations and visual descriptions from the interviews she undertook all had a major impact and influence on the development of the work and its final form. The people Young met and with whom she corresponded gave the concept of solastalgia serious thought, not only with respect to their own individual relationship with their environment, but also considering a community consciousness.

The landscape destroyed by the fires on the outskirts of the city is now in varying states of natural and artificial regeneration/reinvention. Nature and the National Arboretum are doing their work sending new shoots of green and hope, healing the wounded land and hearts of the community. Melinda Young 2012

One of the most arresting sights for Young was the creation of the new housing development adjacent to Stromlo Forest Park and the Canberra Bushfire Memorial. A raw orange tract of dirt and dust had been carved up by tarmacked streets, already named and signposted, with street lamps towering over the barren vista, waiting to be filled with the hopes and dreams of those who build there. Yet for each newcomer, there are also those who mourn the loss of natural beauty that is the cost of such development. Regeneration in nature, rather than urban planning, has influenced Young’s work Arborescence. In it, she has combined natural and synthetic materials to create a narrative of growth and renewal on an overabundant scale. Her suggestion is that the power of nature can overcome man-made disasters – it just takes time.

Photo: Photograph taken by the artist of view from Canberra Bushfire Memorial, 18 January 2012 © the artist

Arborescence (detail) 2012
found wood, artificial plant foliage, oxidised 925 silver, ruby, garnet, carnelian, jasper, labradorite, aventurine, jade, smoky quartz, tourmaline, opal, stone, glass, paint and waxed linen thread
140 x 60 x 10cm
images courtesy the artist
© the artist

Artwork: Arborescence (detail) 2012 by Melinda Young