Below is Amber's essay and some images of other works in the exhibition.
We hear of happy accidents, and alchemy and magic. Of wonders appearing from the unlikeliest of places, beauty amid chaos, ‘diamonds in the rough’. And there’s evidence enough in nature to support that very notion. Take, for example, a pearl, with its otherworldly lustre, couched in mucus, hidden by shell.
Its miracle appearance notwithstanding, a pearl’s creation is absolutely prosaic. For what is a pearl, but the casual result of self-protection? That is, an oyster’s reflex to encase a piece of foreign grit with lacquer-like nacre, layer upon layer, till its surface is the characteristic milky white we’ve come to associate with the ocean’s most precious jewel.
So too, the works comprising Melinda Young’s the world is a pearl are born of process and purpose, and are similarly striking in their beauty. A determination to ‘locally source’ materials for this collection and the recycler’s urge to minimise waste saw Young embark on a personal challenge: to create an exhibition collection using only what remains in the studio, or can be found within several block’s radius of it.
What results is a series of obsessively fashioned multiples, which take in a world of mediums – from Pears soap to frankincense, Play Doh lids to Christmas bells. Each material tells a story, alluding to key points in Young’s practice. But more than this, the materials have been given new life, painstakingly lifted from their fate as ‘scrap’ through repetitive actions (such as in the case of her hand-rolled copper beads).
In Young’s world, the studio is an oyster – the hermetic place in which ‘pearls’ are made. The maker herself describes this process as ‘introspective’, as indeed the practice of sorting, categorising and repurposing objects from one’s past must be. It’s a meditative process, too, with its own rhythm and pace, echoing those of day-to-day life.
The world is a pearl is, ultimately, a celebration in objects of the maker’s creative life. Each work brings with it a memory, traces of a thought, a feeling, or an action. In this way, Young’s latest exhibition is her most personal yet.