James McNamara

It isn’t every day that a member of Saint John’s ELC staff is involved in the staging of an art exhibition in Bangkok. Indeed, I believe it is an unprecedented event, unique in many ways. I asked Melanie to provide a bit of background to the project.

Melanie-Lou Gritzka-del Villar is 25 years old. She graduated from Staffordshire University, U.K. in Fine Art in 2006 and joined St. John’s ELC in Jan. 07. Melanie-Lou has previously contributed to numerous collaborative exhibitions since her first at the Javea International Festival, Spain in ’99. She held her first solo exhibition ‘Asian Spirit’ in the same city in ’05.

Melanie has a disparate and varied background, her parents being German and Filipino, facts which themselves contribute to the main theme of this exhibition which is to ‘challenge notions of identity and culture in a world where clearly defined cultural borders are increasingly dissolving’.

Melanie’s approach involves mixed media and this exhibition includes five mixed-media paintings and one sculpture which seek to raise questions about and take issue with notions of belonging as well as individual and collective identity with a group, nation or set of customs. Melanie says ‘the pieces appropriate cultural images, stereotypes, symbols, materials and conceptual dimensions, which are taken out of their usual context and reassembled within a new field of associations.’

Melanie adds that blending 2-D and 3-D elements was the best way to express her conceptual intentions ‘as each medium adds a different layer of meaning. Perhaps just like I am interested in how different cultures interrelate, I’m also interested in how different materials interact’.

Quoted in November’s ‘Thailand Art & Design Guide’ Melanie outlines a realization which came apparent after her education in Spain and U.K. that; ‘not belonging to any culture in particular is not at all a disadvantage, but quite the opposite. It offers broader perspectives and possibilities that I am still discovering’.

Melanie distils the aim of the exhibition to being able to “ share with viewers, through my own experiences, the state of possibilities when two of more cultures merge. ”

James McNamara adds :For me Melanie’s work seems to embody the spirit of a message ‘Mix our Styles’ which I read every day as a schoolboy in U.K as it was daubed on a bridge adjacent to my school and which has remained since, an indelible mantra in my mind. As it was painted some 30 years ago, it seems now a fairly prophetic message which has become a motto for post industrial societies, multi-national conglomerates, trans-national advertising agencies, as well as national immigration and education policies across the globe.

Melanie’s exhibition Third Space will be on display Nov.10th – Dec 9th at the:
WHITESPACE gallery ( Siam Square) www.whitespaceasia.com
Melanie extends a cordial invitation to all Saint John’s staff or students to go along and enjoy the exhibition.

Best of luck Melanie.

James McNamara