New artist finds ‘Momentum’

Melanie Morris joint show with Simon Morris opens Friday

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Husband and wife team Melanie and Simon Morris will be sharing new work at Salt Spring Gallery this month with a show called Momentum opening Friday, July 12.

Simon, who is well-known as a sculptor specializing in underwater installations, will be showing some smaller limited-edition bronzes. Melanie is a new artist who has found her passion in acrylic mixed-media painting, and will be premiering a wide variety of work in her first-ever gallery show.

“I always wanted to paint but I never had the time,” Melanie Morris said during a recent visit to her studio.

Morris said she is nervous but even more excited about having her first show.

Getting the chance to exhibit alongside her husband, who has made a career in art, is a nice way to enter the gallery scene.

“Simon has always been a big supporter of my work,” she said. “I have travelled the world with his art, and I just thought it would be a neat experience to have a show together.”

Morris started painting with watercolours around four years ago but found they didn’t produce the effect she was looking for. Then she found acrylics, with their bright hues and ability to combine with added elements, such as underlying lines formed with other media; embedded embellishments like glitter and crystals; and finishing layers such as thick, clear resin.

Morris sometimes favours abstract works produced through the pour-over technique of pigments swirled together. Scenes can be built up to resemble crystalline ocean waters with glittering shores. Others, like the show’s title piece, are left in the abstract, with the composition built on relationships between colour and texture — in this case a dramatic shift from sand to black for the background, with a central assemblage of shimmering gold and coral petals.

Some of her works have a three-dimensional aspect, with flowering tree branches or twisting seaweed fronds built up with medium before being painted. A ripple of seashells  she’s collected from the beach adorns one dreamy blue piece.

“I love texture. I try to get as much texture into my paintings as I can,” Morris said.

Though new to the scene, Morris already has a following on social media and sells much of her work through her MJMorris Art page on Facebook. She also offers frequent workshops at her studio on a variety of different techniques and projects.

Both she and her husband donate part of their sales to environmental causes, and the environment figures both in theme and practice. Morris does not pour any of her leftover paint down the sink. Instead, she dries it on wax paper to create acrylic “skins” which she then uses for other projects. Skins can become elements in new multimedia paintings or be cut into small pieces to use as the underlay in unique earrings.

An opening reception for the show takes place from 5 to 8 p.m. this Friday. The exhibition continues to July 31.

For more on this story, see the July 10, 2019 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.

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