Over the past couple of years, aside from other aspects of her practice, Jenny Mellings has made a series of paintings following a short volunteering visit to the Jungle Camp at Calais in January 2016. She, like countless other volunteers, some much longer term, also went along there with the sole intention of helping people in need. But the experience remained so strongly in mind that over the months since then, images have appeared, based on impressions of the camp and warehouse, and the few photographs she took during breaks. They are made on Indian cotton rag paper, and painted with pigments from various parts of Europe and the Middle East, including lapis lazulae from Afghanistan, ochres from France and Germany, red earth from Sidmouth, Devon, and Bideford Black.
The idea of this exhibition has arisen from an awareness of the fact that there are still many vulnerable refugees in Northern France whose lives depend upon support that is still not being provided by governments. For example, the remaining small team of dedicated volunteers at Refugee Community Kitchen in Calais, is still feeding around 1,500 people two meals per day. All of their work relies upon donations of resources and time from the greater community as it has done since it began in the autumn of 2015. Therefore it is hoped that this small body of work might help as a reminder that the crisis is still happening. All the paintings are for sale, (also postcards) and 50% of any amount raised by this will go directly to Refugee Community Kitchen (or similar group if the situation changes in the meantime). The remaining 50% will cover costs and perhaps make another volunteering trip possible in the near future.
This endeavour began via fundraising efforts with Creative Collective for Refugee Relief/Art Without Borders on Facebook in 2015, and earlier, similar groups such as CARA. Those involvements alongside various news reports were what prompted her journey to Calais in the first place. Whilst there she met with a group of volunteers from Bridport Unitarian Chapel in the Garden, who then hosted an ‘On the Ground’ event over one weekend last autumn. It goes without saying that this is just one of many of events and responses that have taken place there, and worldwide in recent years by groups and individuals, including refugees themselves, who want to take direct humane action in response to the plight of refugees in Europe and beyond.
ABOUT THE ARTIST:
Jenny Mellings’ significant preoccupations include landscapes, current events, remote places, space travel, the virtual world, and memory. These and other themes are ruminated over, and visions made manifest via painting, drawing, film and photography.
Jenny has also worked in South West England as a lecturer in fine art, history of art teacher and led gallery/museum workshops in multiple media including animation.