Testing Media: Mel Brimfield

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Many galleries that you walk into nowadays are simply painting after painting coherent to a specific theme or medium. It can get repetitive and although visually it may be appealing, sometimes it’s more interesting to walk into an exhibition and not know what the next piece will bring. When you walk into Mel Brimfield‘s ‘Testing Media’ exhibition in the Peter Scott Gallery, the versatility hits you straight away and you’ll find yourself walking round the whole exhibition before settling at one piece – you simply want to see what else she has to offer.

Commissioned by many galleries and companies, Mel has worked with performers and artists making short films combing performance, photography and painting to create a truly interesting concept and a fresh, modernised look to her work. By referencing theatre, film and fellow artists such as Jackson Pollock and Vincent van Gogh, she has been able to conjure a collection of artwork that appeals to all ages, proving to be a truly successful exhibition. Her flexibility and lack of restriction keeps the audience interested and with supplementary features available (e.g. headphones), you can listen to the performances and be captivated as you fully focus on the screens in front of you.

The vocabulary used in the videography ranges from flamboyant language to a lack of control in what is being said, vulgarity and comedic approaches ensuring you will definitely not forget about it. You almost feel sympathetic for many of the characters portrayed by a lip-syncing Dickie Beau, an artist that has worked with Mel for many years now.

The exhibition itself makes you focus on things that you wouldn’t usually notice. The HD video piece entitled ‘Death and Dumb Part 2’, a blacked out background surrounding a very vocal mouth is quite disturbing. On the day when the exhibition was opened, Mel held a talk where she referred to this piece as having sexual connotations. She informed attendees of her many inspirations including old comedy gameshows such as It’s a Knockout and plays like Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days.

It’s hard to summarise ‘Testing Media’ in a review as it will mean something different to everyone. Go to the Peter Scott Gallery, pick up a handout and work your way through what is an incredible exhibition.

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