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Melanie King / Ancient Light

  • Gorvy Lecture Theatre Royal College of Art SW11 4AN England (map)

Royal College of Art

Melanie’s practice explores the intrinsic connection between humans, materials and phenomena existing beyond the Earths’ atmosphere. She primarily uses sun, moon and starlight to cause effects on photosensitive materials. Melanie can often be found in the darkroom, and is known for her work with silver gelatin materials, cyanotype and daguerreotype. Melanie also explores materiality in relation to traditional printmaking processes, using meteorite-imbued ink to create a series of photo-etchings. Melanie’s practice is focused upon demonstrating how humanity, planet earth and the greater universe are intimately connected. In the current ecological climate, Melanie believes that it is particularly important to consider our relationship to our home planet.

Melanie’s work as a curator and events organiser also explores the relationship between light, photography and the natural world. Melanie believes that the action of looking through a telescope or at a dark sky full of stars can be a transformative experience.

Melanie’s obsession with astronomy began at a young age when she was introduced to the concept of a vast universe by her parents. Melanie experienced deep anxiety as a child when faced with the idea of deep time and giant stars, which led to a mental block lasting until she began exploring again at art school in early adulthood. Melanie’s fear of space has now become a fascination and she is consequently exploring the concept of the cosmic sublime. An important turning point for Melanie’s research was the Envisioning the Universe seminar at the National Maritime Museum in 2013 convened by astronomer Marek Kukula. Here, the concept of the astronomical sublime was discussed in depth.

The complimentary practices of astronomy and analogue photography processes rely on a precise interplay between total darkness and controlled exposure to light. Melanie’s writing has recently focused on this experience in relation to metaphorical darkness, both in the search for knowledge and for spiritual enlightenment.

Lumen is an art collective, focused on themes of astronomy and light, regularly exhibiting in churches as well as galleries.
Through art, exhibitions and seminars Lumen aim to raise a dialogue about how humanity understands existence.

Recent projects include the “School of Light” exhibition at Ugly Duck in February 2017, the “Aries on the Horizon” commission by the British Science Association, Print the Moon events with astronomer Paul Hill and Polaroid Originals, Ivana Kupala Celebration at Phytology Bethnal Green Nature Reserve, projections at Blue Dot Festival, and an eclipse themed commission for Green Man Festival. Lumen run an annual residency to Atina in Italy, where visitors are able to visit local observatories and observe the Perseid Meteor shower. Lumen run a gallery space based in the crypt of St John on Bethnal Green, which has hosted a number of exhibitions related to artistic explorations of science, astronomy and light.