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In Conversation: James Mellor

Venture on a fascinating voyage through the profound realms of mental health as we delve into the artistry of James Mellor. Through the intricate language of mixed media, Mellor weaves a visual narrative that mirrors the complexities of the human psyche. Join us in an exploration of emotions, experiences, and the enigmatic nature of mental well-being, as the artist invites viewers to embrace the unexpected, break down stigma, and discover the beauty in the intricate layers of our own minds.

Joana Alarcão
23 de janeiro de 2024
Can you elaborate on your artistic journey and how it led you to become the artist you are today?

As a kid, I always loved art to express myself. I kind of see art as a world where people it is their responsibility and care to explore and interact with different people, and cultures whilst with an artist especially in education you put into the same technique of work. For me, I prefer to keep experimenting and not do formulas as there are no limitations of ideas to what you can in art.

 

Your art delves into the intricate terrain of mental health. Can you share what inspired you to explore this theme in your work?

      

For someone that been bullied, made fun of, dissocialise for a long period just after the end of secondary school. Experiencing depression for a couple of years and still to this day it is a topic that I believe should not be overlooked to the mind's eyes, as people cannot understand or are afraid to understand people's experience when they are going through this process. Using this process in drawing and painting as an art process I found it fascinating to experiment with this after and before graduation. All my art to this point has felt like an emotional journey.


Your artistic language involves mixed media to convey the profound concept you are investigating. How do you choose the specific materials and textures to represent the diverse elements of the psychological landscape?

Like the moods on the day, it goes with the flow, I don’t think about it, I just do it. Whilst in the art process I consider the components such as the visual symbolizing and metaphor in the pieces. Mixed media art allows for the layering of various materials, creating depth both visually and conceptually. I might use transparent or translucent materials to represent the layers of thoughts, memories, and emotions that make up the psychological experience. 



Sunflower in the abyss by James Mellor. All images courtesy of James Mellor.

The layering, tearing, and reconstructing in your artistic process mirror the twists and turns in the journey to mental well-being. Can you walk us through how the creation of each piece reflects this willingness to embrace the unexpected?

Quite a question. It is kind of like how I see human nature. Whereas human beings, especially in history, are afraid of change, and the differences in people, how I see people and art I don’t fear something new, I’m drawn to give everything away and I feel especially battling with depression I have enough self-respect to say I motivated and have strong will power to say I can embrace the unexpecting as much as it terrifying. I would say the biggest challenge in my life is writing and communication. The technique in the beginning starts by just winging it while photography takes the simplicity of a beautiful part of the world we live in and edits it into something that we don’t expect. Something like a fairytale.

 

Your art captures the diversity of mental health, emphasizing that it is not a linear or binary concept. How do you incorporate contrasting elements in your work to reflect the highs and lows of the human mind?

Color is a big key that comes to my mind when using light and the dark. During the journey, I can say more paintings and drawings, I have done in the present-day, have shown negative emotion in a visual form and yet there is a sign of hope such as the inspiration of my favourite childhood book Pandora Box. The drawing style affects dark and light but there is a sense of expressing positive freedom, beauty, and self-respect, that deep down we all struggle and experience with even when not experiencing mental health and it can happen to anyone unexpectedly. It is the phrase as well to Show don’t tell so hilariously, I tried to hold back explaining and let the art speak for itself as though the viewer experienced their own journey.

 

Mystery is a central theme in your art, encouraging viewers to explore the depth of their own emotions and experiences. How do you approach creating mystery in your pieces, and what do you hope viewers take away from that experience?

The way would be to leave certain and uncertain elements of the artwork intentionally vague or incomplete. This prompts viewers to fill in the gaps with their interpretations, fostering a sense of mystery. Ultimately, I think the goal is often to create a connection between the viewer and the artwork, allowing for personal and subjective interpretations. 

 


The Eternity Loop by James Mellor. All images courtesy of James Mellor.

How do you use color as a tool to convey emotional nuances, and what role does contrast play in your artistic expression?

I play with color palettes to evoke specific moods or emotions. Subtle color variations can create a mysterious atmosphere and draw viewers into the emotional depth of the piece. Colors often have symbolic associations, and artists can leverage this to convey emotions. For instance, warm colors like reds and yellows might evoke feelings of passion or energy, while cool colors like blues and greens may convey calmness or melancholy.


Creating a harmonious color palette can establish a particular mood. Analogous colors (those close on the color wheel) create a sense of unity and calm, while complementary colors (opposite on the color wheel) can be used for striking contrast and tension. Varying the intensity or saturation of colors within a piece can add depth and nuance. Subtle gradations can create a sense of delicacy, while intense and vibrant colors may elicit stronger emotional responses. Introducing unexpected or unconventional colors can disrupt expectations and evoke a sense of intrigue or unease. This can be particularly effective in abstract art that aims to challenge perceptions.


Contrast in Artistic Expression:

Contrast, whether in color, texture, or form, enhances the visual impact of an artwork. In the context of abstract themes and emotions, striking contrasts can evoke a visceral response from the viewer. Contrast can be used to emphasize certain elements within a composition. By placing contrasting colors or shapes near each other, artists can draw attention to specific areas, guiding the viewer's focus and interpretation. Contrast, I feel, can create tension within an artwork. The resolution of this tension, whether through balance or imbalance, can mirror emotional states and contribute to the overall mood of the piece. In the context of mental health and human nature, contrast can be metaphorically linked to internal struggles, the interplay of conflicting emotions, or the juxtaposition of beauty and horror. It allows for a nuanced exploration of complex and contradictory aspects of the human experience.


In your ever-evolving exploration of mental health, your creations remind us of the beauty of vulnerability and resilience. Can you share a specific piece that holds a profound meaning to you in this context?

Well, they all do, ha-ha. I think that speaks to me is The Forge, and The Unthinkable. "Unthinkable" is a powerful and thought-provoking abstract oil painting that delves into the depths of the human psyche. This stunning artwork is executed on a vibrant red and black background, setting the stage for a profound exploration of the human condition. The central focus of the composition is a stark black dead tree, symbolizing life's challenges, and struggles, touching on themes of mental anguish, existentialism, and the human experience. A very dark time at that moment.


"Forge" is a circular canvas to symbolize the cycle of life and death, while the dominant colour, green, speaks to the ever-renewing vitality of nature. The canvas is brought to life with swirling brushstrokes, evoking the swirling forces of life and the artist's intricate process. Both paintings are broad but convey a lot visually.

 

Your art encourages self-reflection and provides a platform for individuals to share their stories. How do you envision the role of your art in inspiring a sense of community and understanding among those who may be facing mental health struggles?

Art can provide a safe and non-judgmental space for individuals to express their thoughts and emotions. By addressing mental health themes, artists can contribute to breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health issues, fostering an environment where individuals feel comfortable sharing their own stories. Art has the power to evoke empathy by allowing viewers to connect with the emotions and experiences depicted in the artwork. When individuals see representations of mental health struggles in art, it can promote understanding, reduce isolation, and encourage a sense of shared humanity. Art can catalyze meaningful conversations about mental health.


Art that reflects diverse experiences of mental health can empower individuals by providing representation. Seeing one's experiences reflected in art can be validating and may instil a sense of belonging, reinforcing the idea that individuals are not alone in their struggles.


The role of art in inspiring a sense of community and understanding in the context of mental health is about breaking down barriers, fostering empathy, and providing a platform for dialogue and shared experiences. It's a collaborative and evolving process that involves both the creators and the audience.


What message or call to action would you like to leave our readers with?

If you feel you experiencing any feelings of mental health, depression, or social interaction tell someone you love or care for, never go to addiction or self-harm, you can be strong and independent by asking for help. I was bullied for so long and I didn’t tell anyone. I don’t want people losing years as I did. 


In a world that can sometimes feel overwhelming, remember the power of empathy, understanding, and self-expression. Whether through art, conversation, or personal reflection, we must strive to create spaces where mental health is discussed openly, stigma is dismantled, and not judged. If you bully or ever have just don’t, just don’t 

Never be Cruel or Cowardly, Never Give Up Never Give In

Love yourself and Think Of Others. 


Cover Image:

Helping our planet earth by James Mellor. Image courtesy of James Mellor.

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In the artist’s work, they delve into the intricate terrain of mental health, employing mixed media as their artistic language to convey the profound and often elusive aspects of this universal human experience. The creations serve as a visual narrative, weaving together the threads of emotion, process, technique, and mystery, aiming to foster a deeper anomaly understanding of the complexities that lie beneath the surface of our minds. The process of creating each piece is as integral to the artist’s practice as the final product itself. Just as the journey to mental well-being is filled with twists and turns, willingness to embrace the unexpected. Through layering, tearing, and reconstructing.


The use of mixed media in the art allows the artist to channel the multifaceted nature of mentality. It reflects the diverse and often fragmented elements that make up the psychological landscape. Just as the human psyche is an intricate interplay of thoughts, emotions, memories, and external influences, their artistic process incorporates a myriad of materials, and textures through the layering of diverse media. The artist seeks to mirror the layering of emotions and experiences that shape mental well-being.


Mental health is a topic that encompasses a broad spectrum of emotions and experiences, and their art endeavours to capture this diversity. Artists believe that the psyche health is not a linear or binary concept; it is a kaleidoscope of thoughts and struggles. In their work, you will find vibrant bursts of color juxtaposed with deep shadows, reflecting the highs and lows of the human mind. By integrating contrasting elements. Aiming to emphasize the notion that there is beauty in complexity and that the path to understanding people's mental well-being is not always straightforward.


Mystery is a central theme in the artist’s art, as it mirrors the enigmatic nature of the topic. Aiming to evoke curiosity and introspection in viewers, encouraging them to explore the depth of their own emotions and experiences, then inviting viewers to look beyond the surface and embark on their own journey of interpretation.


Ultimately, mixed media art serves as a visual representation of the profound and enduring importance of one’s health. It encourages conversations, evokes emotions, and fosters a sense of connection and empathy among those who engage with it. Artists hope to break down the stigma surrounding mental health and inspire self-reflection, which provides a platform for individuals to share their stories, knowing they are not alone in their struggles.


In this ever-evolving exploration of the topic, artists’ mixed media creations remind us that the beauty of the human experience lies not just in the successes, but in our vulnerability, resilience, and the journey toward understanding the intricacies of our own minds.

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