From Perfume to Birdsong

Dean Melbourne

Tag: artist

19.5.2014 – loosening my grip



Allowing myself the space to respond and react in a less structured or even inhibited way when making and thinking about painting is proving to be productive and relatively joyful. In attempting to observe the “patterns that connect” ( thank you Andy Parkinson) I hope to ,over a longer period, find out something about myself. 

This process feels opposed to vehemently sticking to a pre constructed position or statement while creating a body of work. Allowing myself to not know the answers and to let the process of painting help me ask a question of myself and my understanding. To not have the answers or to admit that one never really did is both frightening and liberating.  to make work without censorship and inhibition or to be constrained by a sense of what a “serious” artist looks like and more importantly by what the people who’s opinion I value may or may not think. 

One noticeable difference is that I now find myself constantly alert and excited by new trains of thought. By making connections from one subject to another and letting serendipity  and chance guide my choices there is now abundance of opportunity where before there was a baron and confined path. 

thoughts and notions do come and go and drift like mist though. I want to try and capture them. 

from dark to light, masculine to feminine. 

Primal fears and urges, the id, the basement. 

Meetings at night in nature. Gatherings, erotic, spiritual, religious, pagan. Woods, forests, pockets of wilderness. 

Exposure, erotic game playing, voyeurism. Back to nature, release, shedding the contemporary, reconnecting with the land with nature, with our animal selves. Amateur pornorgraphy, nudists. Normal people, bigger, older more real.

Celebration. My relationship with the country side. Association with a sense of magic and wonder. ” a bustle in you hedgerow” led zeppelin, lord of the rings. Local landscape and urban nature, unofficial country side by Richard Mabey. Observing nature in detail. The canal side. the hedgerow. Nature as symbol Graham sutherland and john piper, archaic systems and rhythms. Placing myself beyond the immediate, in a bigger context. 

legends folklore, fairies, the secret commonwealth, combining pretty ness and animal behaviours. Fairie sex. 

Gardens, tamed nature, man made havens, secrecy, flowers and foliage. My relationship with the a notion about femininity. Revisiting cross dressing and its motivations. Gardens and nature used in very feminine photography, editorials, prettiness. A mystery, a magic of another world that is not available to me. Coming from and living where I do. Fabrics and perfumes, gentleness and safety. Away from the alpha competitiveness of men. 

obsessivess, fetishisation of clothing , tights, legs, feet. floral fabrics take on both erotic a emotional connotations. psychology, archetypes, jung. 

witches, goddesses, sirens, mesmerising. mysterious. Catalogue hyper reality, hyper feminine , obscure pornographic images, people indulging in ambiguous erotic behaviours, games, rituals, dares. Heightened states. 

Seers, those seeing more than the average person, like birds seeing more of the spectrum than us. Those that saw fairies or sensed magic were thought of as being more perceptive, more sensitive. Robert kirk. before being demonised , witch hunts. 

amongst the noise of the modern world , images of nature even in fashion editorial pull at us and seduce with there perfection. 

I am drawn to them as I am drawn to erotic images and the reactions are complex contradictory and in parallel. 

An internal condition, our animality, 

” mimicry preceding comprehension; from there a little darkness grows” Devin Johnson , Creaturely. 



31.03.2014 – Open Studio Event (12th – 13th April)






The event is supported by Arts Council England 


5.10.2013 – Freud (lecture note I)

Much of mental life including thoughts, emotions and motives is unconscious, which means we sometimes behave in ways that are inexplicable even to ourselves.”


Mental processes including emotions and motivations operate in parallel. We can have conflicting feelings about the same person or situation at the same time



Notes paraphrased from  2009 Richmond Lecture

Timothy L. Hulsey, VCU psychology professor and dean of the honors college engages students and faculty in the Core Course and the psychology, MLC and English departments in a general forum on the relationship between Freudian theory and mainstream American psychological science.

we are dark smaller-1

The Devil’s Death, Dean Melbourne, 2013, Oil on canvas, 150cm x 100cm. All rights reserved.

26.4.2013 – 10 Current Inspirations

  1. The Magus – John Fowles
  2. Sorcerer – Miles Davis
  3. Keira Bennett’s Show at Charlie Smith, London
  4. Three Nudes in a Forest,1911 – Otto Mueller
  5. Les Rameurs Sur Le Lac – Maurice Vlaminck
  6. The Night Bathers – Ted Walker
  7. A hilly Scene – Samuel Palmer
  8. CINEMA X volume 6 number 7
  9. Winterbourne Gardens
  10. Spring evening light


New Work – “We Are Dark (The Prestige Trap)”

We Are Dark 2013, Oil and gloss on canvas. Dean Melbourne (all rights reserved)

We Are Dark 2013, Oil and gloss on canvas. Dean Melbourne (all rights reserved)

20.3.2013 – say dark over and over

Darkness in nature fascinates. Small nature. Urban nature.

The lines of twisted roots that cling and overwhelm. The dark shadowy spaces between leaves. Nature illuminated by artificial light. Golden canopies and the blackness beneath. Walk further to the woods and feel the darkness envelop you. Hollow trees the day time retreat of crouching witches now vacant.

Weeds, brambles, nettles next to languid pools. Sit there , still. The night is full of noise.

Footsteps on the gravel approaching now. Fuck who else would be out here now. Stay still. Freeze. Thumping heart.

They pass and the dark world is mine again.

The train is busy tonight. It’s still light outside and the banal chatter of who said what to whom rattles around the carriage.

Grey day but still and calm.

18.3.2013 – lavender splinters

In the centre of my palm on my left hand. A shard of last years lavender punctured my cold hand.

That’s not a surprise, I’ve always had soft hands, “girls hands” “never seen a days work ” hands.

Sitting on the cold slab of the second step to my house I go about removing the fragrant thorn. It’s good to be outside. The temperature eased to just make a bit of pottering possible.

I’m reminded that tending any plot of land no matter how small or unremarkable is good for the soul.
Cutting back last years dead feels cleansing. Even the rumbling exhausts don’t bother me as they are soon replaced by the arching clap of wood pigeons and birdsong. Sipping tea on the step and taking in the ice blue sky.

The splinter hurts and brings me back.

Cold blue sky’s full of potential and an increase in pressure. Some turbulence and periods of light rage.

27.2.2013 – I remember (10 mins)

I remember moments with nature. As a child my strongest feelings of joy are linked to to natural landscape, the weather and birds and animals.

Being woken excruciatingly early to drive to the harbour in looe to watch the morning catch of blue shark being weighed. My photo taken as I stood beneath this beautiful giant. The pride of the the spot of blood on my new white tee shirt. It stained.

We fished for crabs on the harbour wall for most of the day. Buckets and buckets of mostly green crabs. A friend and I explored among the boats at low tide as they lay prone on their painted keels. We found a conga eel head and were amazed at its size. Our parents were less pleased to see it as we rushed excitedly back to them holding it aloft.

At sunset we walked around a small lake or a large pool. The sky was red with fire and I remember my dad clapping his mechanics hands and sending a flock of starlings into the sky. I stood in awe at their display and as the sun dropped beyond the horizon I headed home in my dads coat.


Leaving the house today felt I can only imagine how the end of a winter hibernation feels to a sleepy animal.

I was surprised to see the moon in the sky. I always think of graham sutherland or Samuel Palmer when I see the moon in the day time.

I have not seen very much for the last few weeks. Mindfulness and awareness have been beyond me. I guess that there is a natural rhythm as with all things. Odd to feel unable to see after a period of all seeming significant.

I saw the moon today, that is a start.

While waiting for an anxiety cloud to pass I have entered a new world of the second Triassic with JG Ballard and discovered the late work of Singer Sargent.