The jewellery project Take a ball of thread... came about in September 2007 when I was at home recuperating from an operation. I was feeling very stuck, both at home and in my practice, so I started to look around me at all the things I had hoarded away in my studio, up in the attic. I kept coming back to the great big ball of pink thread that was left over at the end of Yuka Oyama's Schmuck Quickies project that I had been helping out with during Sydney Design 07 in August. I really wasn't sure why I was attracted to it in the first place - I have never really been a pink kind of girl, but there was something about it... and it became a display item in my studio.
So, needing a challenge and some structure for this, I decided to set myself a project with some basic rules. There were other things I wanted to achieve as well as pushing myself along in my making and they were learning to blog and practicing my photography - so these were factored into the rules as well. I guess the idea came first, although the thread was already there, but only very recently and it was initially collected without purpose, just as a strange, pretty thing.
My exhibition work has always used found objects and recycled materials so it seemed natural to use the thread – I knew too that as it was such a big ball of thread that the project would last a long time and really challenge me and force me way beyond my comfort zone. The colour too seemed ripe for conceptual exploration.
Colour seems to play a very important part in your work and a lot of your objects tend to be monochromatic. Is this a conscious decision or something you find yourself subconsciously inclined towards?
That monochromatic use of colour must be very much something that I am subconsciously drawn to, as I have never really thought about it as being characteristic of my work. Although, having said this, all my collections of found objects are colour coded and some even grouped separately, in little zip-lock bags waiting to be assembled into jewellery.
While the work in Take a Ball of Thread... is deliciously 3D, your production work is mostly 2D. Do you differentiate between each practice or approach them differently?
I do have a different approach. The production work mostly comes from my drawings and my absolute love of sawing - I like to draw with my saw! Whereas my exhibition work, which is very much centred around materials, evolves from those materials. It comes from experimentation and play with the material and the ideas that start to bubble to the surface during this play. Take a ball of thread... really shows that process from start to finish - if you look at the blog the early pieces are quite timid (and small), really just playing with the material itself and even then not much of the thread was used in the early work. Then once I started with the wax and really stopped to think about what I was making and why, the project really started to take flight along with the conceptual ideas that now form the undercurrent for the project. Once I have hit my stride with exhibition work I then start to draw and design new pieces, whereas the production work tends to start with the drawing/design process rather than the material/concept.
Ask me again when I have finished... there is still at least 1/3 of the ball left!
I recently made some neckpieces with black thread for an exhibition at Pablo Fanque in Sydney and found that working with a different colour made me feel very different. Although I do have moments when I stop loving the pink, there is something about looking at and being with the pink all the time that is comforting and warm, like an embrace, I will miss it when it is finished.
What achievement are you most proud of to date?
Winning the JMGA NSW Profile award for an established artist in 2008 with pieces from this project and having the opportunity to show this body of work in solo exhibitions at Pablo Fanque, Craft Victoria and Zu Design.
What is a day in the life of Melinda Young like?
I have all kinds of different days, and I am currently on holiday from my ‘day job’ so I am going to describe what has been a typical summers day in the lead up to my exhibition at Craft Victoria: A nice sleep in, a coffee & potter in the garden, then house stuff or off to the beach for a swim or for a walk with my partner. Back home for lunch and then when he heads off to work at 3 in the afternoon, it's up the ladder to my attic studio to commence work for the day.
And last of all, what is the best piece of advice someone ever told you?
When I was a student, my wonderful and inspiring teacher Margaret West, used to tell us to make ‘compost’, to cover our benches with it and out of that something will grow.
Melinda Young, Spill, 2009, NYC Pink Wax, Plastic Necklace, 925 silver, Cotton Thread.
Spill, Melinda's current favourite work.
Melinda is also one of CLOG's favourite bloggers. Do visit her blog to view some fantastic documentation of one of the most exciting projects in recent times!