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Last Night, While You Were Sleeping

Lescar Project Space, Sheffield, 2006.

Mother Hare
Out of the mouths of babes
Kitchen sink drama
Seed bed
Sheela-na-gig
Blind mice
So perfect, you could set your soul by it
What you gathered
Sleeper
the fed baby
Melanie Cove has whitewashed the walls of the Lescar Project Space to provide a canvas for a series of drawings of human figures, ranging from explicit male and female genitalia to tender depictions of the idealised nature of childhood.

Cove has children of her own and the work expresses the ambivalent feelings we all have towards our family.

Running round the four walls are a network of lines. "These are vines which I used as they brought in something of the outside, they were a way of dealing with the space and bringing everything together," she says. "Painting the vine was relaxing and hypnotic. When making the work every line of the vines is accounted for, and they all matter, but at the same time I was aware that it was a temporary thing and that once the exhibition finishes in January the work will no longer exist. I like the fact that the show is just for this space."

 

There are expressions of a mother's fierce protective love and also the frustrations and anger that can be generated in the home. In one image a woman, surrounded by kitchen paraphernalia, is brandishing a knife in front of a toddler which is clearly an extreme reaction. "It's not supposed to be taken literally, it's not anything I could ever imagine anyone I know doing," she says, "but in any case someone has pointed out that she could actually have taken the knife away from the child."

The title, Last Night While You Were Sleeping, alludes to storytelling and dreams and another drawing depicts a rabbit in an apron hovering over a tiny baby on a bed, as if out of a children's story or else something more sinister. "One of the things I was exploring was the rational and the animal. We are all animals and there's the potential to lose your rationality especially when you are confronted by your offspring. Again there are extremes. some animals eat their own babies."

She is pleased that the venue enables all kinds of people to look at her art, not just gallerygoers, and even accepts the fact that some may be inebriated when they do. "I think that's no bad thing at all," she laughs and hopes to earn a wide range of different responses from viewers. while aware that the work is open to misinterpetation. "I heard someone suggesting it was all about child abuse and would be concerned if people read that into it," she says.

 

Ian Souter- Sheffield Telegraph, November 24th 2006.

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