Exploring narcicissm and image-obsessed society

Q. Could you introduce yourself please, and tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Aimee Melaugh, I am a painter based in Clarendon Street Studios in Derry. I graduated from the Belfast School of Art in 2018 with a BA Honours Degree in Fine Art Painting.

Since then I have been exhibiting in galleries such as Platform Arts Belfast, the ArtisAn Gallery and PS² Belfast.

I have had a solo exhibition at The Glassworks, Derry, which was supported by the Arts Council NI and have recently completed an artist residency with Art Arcadia in June 21.

I had another solo exhibition at St Augustine’s Old Schoolhouse. My work is included in public collections such as the Belfast School of Art, The Arts Council NI’s permanent collection and the NI Civil Service Art collection.

Recently I was shortlisted for the Robert Walter’s UK New Artist of the Year Award in collaboration with Saatchi Gallery in London. I was part of a group exhibition in Saatchi Gallery with the nine other finalists and now the exhibition can be viewed virtually online at: RW Award 2021 — UK New Artists

There is currently a Public Choice Award which is now open for the public to vote for their favourite artist which can be done through the same link. I am the only NI artist amongst the ten finalists.

Q. What inspired you growing up in Derry as an artist?

During sixth form at school I attended Void Art School in Derry which I found inspiring as I was able to experiment and push my practice further outside of a school setting.

We often carried out research and aimed to relate our work to modern day society and events which were taking place at the time.

It was a great opportunity to create art as part of a group and learn about different styles, techniques and artist references. It was also great getting an insight into the life of working artists as we were able to see some of the studio spaces which were there at the time.

Q.Who are your main influences in life?

My main influences would be family and friends as I am surrounded by hard-working individuals and it motivates me to keep pushing my art practice further. I am also influenced by many working artists such as Adrian Ghenie and Justin Mortimer.

Q. Where is your favourite place in Derry?

I really love the space over at Ebrington, I think it would be a great space for another gallery or even artist studio spaces. It would be a great space for something creative to happen.

Q. What message does your artwork represent?

I often draw upon poetry and literature to explore ideas surrounding entrapment and identity.

I developed these ideas whilst doing my recent residency in June 2021 with Art Arcadia at St Augustine’s Old Schoolhouse in Derry.

During the residency I was given the opportunity to create work responding to the setting of the St Augustine’s graveyard and the old schoolhouse. I found that working in a new space allowed me to experiment more and create connections between my work and the area which was really interesting.

My most recent work has since developed further to explore narcissism, suppressed individuality and our modern day image-obsessed society. Which I feel all resonate with the events of the past year.

Q.What advice would you give to any young artists out there?

I would advise young artists to try and develop their practice through doing residencies if they get the opportunity to, as they are great for experimenting and creating new work in a different setting.

I think young artists should try to approach galleries as there are many out there that support emerging artists .

I also think it’s great to apply for funding to help support your practice and to try to make connections with other local artists in your area.

Attending exhibition opening nights is a great way to network with other artists and hear about upcoming opportunities.

Q. What would you like to see open or happen in Derry in terms of art?

I would like to see more artist studios in Derry as having a creative space is really important for developing work.

It’s also beneficial to be in a space with other working artists as it can help motivate you and opportunities arise when artists work collaboratively also.

Q.Have you got a motto or proverb in life?

I like to try to keep positive and stay motivated and always try to have a goal to work towards, especially when doing art I find it helps to have upcoming deadlines to work towards.