The sea butterfly (pteropod - Limacina helicina antarctica), a vital link in the marine food web, is an icon of environmental fragility. The formation of its delicate shell is being affected by the rising acidity of our oceans due to the absorption of increasing levels of carbon dioxide, which is threatening its very existence.
This sculptural work contributes an empathic response to otherwise purely scientific descriptions of this situation, through the use of metaphors, which relate mysteries of the ocean to familiar terrestrial forms, such as the midden.
Shell middens have an association with a number of cultural groups including the Australian aboriginals. This work is not making a reference to a particular cultural activity but identifying the pteropod as a food source in a chain of survival and life. There is a sense of abundance in this pyramid of the sea, although their hollow nature suggests otherwise.
Courtesy of Handmark Gallery
Melissa Smith primarily works with print, utilising traditional and new technologies. Her work references aspects of the landscape and in particular the shifts in the landscape that have occurred as a consequence of climatic changes, questioning its future balance.
She has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions throughout Australia and overseas. Melissa has been a finalist in major art prizes including the Alice Prize, Hutchins Art Prize, Burnie Print Prize, Sunshine Coast Art Prize, Banyule Works on Paper Art Award, Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize and the Outback Prize. Her prints were acquired in the 2011 Silkcut Print Award and the 2012 Fremantle Print Award. Melissa’s work is represented in corporate, tertiary, college and private collections in Australia and overseas, and in the following public galleries: National Gallery of Australia, ACT; Burnie Regional Gallery, Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, TAS; Wagga Wagga Art Gallery, Grafton Regional Gallery, Tweed River Regional Art Gallery, NSW and the Warrnambool Art Gallery, VIC.
Melissa currently lives and works in Launceston, balancing her roles with Arts Tasmania as a Roving Curator and Program Officer for Public Art, with her arts practice.
polylactide and acrylonitrile butadience styrene
20 x 26 x 26 cm
Judges of the 2014 Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize: Lisa Havilah (Director of Carriageworks), Justin Miller (International Art Advisor and former Chairman of Sotheby's Australia) and Gretel Packer (Arts Patron and Trustee of the Art Gallery of NSW).
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