General News

1 April, 2024

‘Beasts of Burden’ exhibition at CHC

Local artist Melissa Kelly is displaying a new series of figurative works on display at the Coo-ee Heritage Centre (CHC), titled ‘Beasts of Burden’.

By Nicholas Croker, Cadet Journalist

‘Beasts of Burden’ exhibition at CHC - feature photo

Local artist Melissa Kelly is currently showcasing her latest series of figurative works at the Coo-ee Heritage Centre (CHC), titled ‘Beasts of Burden’. The exhibition features 16 distinct pieces that delve into themes of female identity and experience through the lens of transformative zoomorphism, effectively expressing emotion and concepts.

Kelly explains that "Beasts of Burden" is a reflection of her rural upbringing and acknowledges the contributions of women to industry and family life in regional Australia. The exhibition encapsulates various aspects of rural life, including open spaces, nature, work, and child-rearing, while also delving into themes such as domestic duty, societal roles, body image, and autonomy.

Using transformative zoomorphism, Kelly assigns animal qualities to non-animal subjects, such as people, to convey emotions and concepts visually. For instance, the artwork titled ‘Nest Woman’ symbolizes the female as an incubator, caregiver, and nurturer, reflecting the transformative identity women undergo as their children grow and leave home.

Kelly's journey with ceramics began in 2015 at the Coonamble Ceramics Collective, where she learned to sculpt clay alongside fellow creatives. She established her home studio in 2019 to further pursue her passion for ceramics. Since then, she has had the opportunity to exhibit her work at various regional exhibitions, including collaborations with institutions like the Western Plains Cultural Centre in Dubbo and Outback Arts in Coonamble.

Each of Kelly's exhibitions explores feminist themes, drawing from her own identity and experiences as a woman. She incorporates natural elements into her works, reflecting her connection to the local land, particularly the Warrumbungle mountains and the Castlereagh River.

The ‘Beasts of Burden’ exhibition represents a continuation of Kelly's artistic explorations, offering viewers a unique and thought-provoking perspective on female identity and experience in regional Australia.


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