By Melanie Deegan
Melanie trained as a woodcarver before taking up full-time sculpting. She has experimented with a range of media and now works mostly in Jesmonite, an acrylic resin to which she adds colour and different materials for texture. Most of her sculptures begin with a wire armature onto which the layers of resin are applied.
In their own words ...
I was delighted to be invited back to Glastonbury Abbey for another sculpture trail. The idea of suspending rooks from one of the abbey’s trees was immediately received with enthusiasm by the staff.
My sculpting career started in the 1980s when I spent several years working as a woodcarver with Ray Holloway in the Somerset village of Draycott. This gave me experience of a wide range of projects involving anything from restoration work on Wells Cathedral and other churches to carving butter prints for the National Trust. After a series of bizarre nightmares about the butter prints, I decided that I had probably carved a few too many and took my career in a different direction.
It was not until 2006 that I began to think seriously about taking up sculpting again and joined a sculpture group meeting every week in Ilminster. Initially I was working in clay, learning about mould making and casting, then moved on to try other materials including plaster, lost wax bronze casting and Newplast. I then came across Jesmonite (a combination of natural raw materials and acrylic resin) and started to experiment with different approaches to casting and laminating. This work is evolving as I learn about the best way to make an armature, the types of materials that can be combined with Jesmonite and how to finish different sculptures.
Inspiration for my sculptures comes from various sources including photographs, paintings and real life. Being based in a rural area of South West England there is plenty of wildlife to be found locally along with farm and domestic animals. My plans for the future include a number of sculptures for outdoor locations and some interesting commissions.