Beyond the canvas, a small-town street became the bridge between a shared human experience for artists Melanie Macilwain and Liam Murphy. What started as a neighbourly interaction has become a meaningful point of community and connection for the pair who share a signature form of expression – line art. While their paintings distinctly differ in stylistic rhythm, they align in essence as both artists approach their work from a place of humility and play.
“I was excited when Liam came up with the idea to exhibit together. There’s polarity in our work even though we use the same element of design and it felt like a complimentary pairing,” says Melanie of their upcoming exhibition Same Street which runs at the Fenton & Fenton Showroom in Prahran from 7 – 18 April.
The artists will showcase their own bodies of work, where Melanie explores a moveable feast of bold, block colours and continuous line, while Liam’s work takes a turn into new terrain. “I’ve gone off the beaten track and it led me to altering my palette and working with different pastels. You still get a strong sense that it’s my work, because despite a shift in many of the colours, I can’t seem to finish a painting without having pink in it,” muses Liam.
The artists have bonded over one of life’s great equalisers: children. For Melanie, a difficult second pregnancy with several trips to the ER led to reevaluating her approach to accommodate for restricted body movement. “I focused on three elements of line design, where a snake meets itself on a plain background. Within the curved, continuous lines are simple blocks of colour. I looked to Henri Matisse for inspiration, and this is my ode to his collage The Snail. Matisse was restricted in his work and created The Snail while bedridden. It was a gentle reminder to experience a moment in my life for what it is, without focusing on what I couldn’t do, and leaning into what I could. Life is about ups and downs and accepting this flow was empowering for me.”
With his kids back on campus – after two years of home schooling – Liam channelled his energy into a different kind of play, “It was a shock to the senses, all the quiet time, so I had to re-adapt my flow and you can see it in the work,” says Liam.
“I let go and I enjoyed the process, it was a happy state of uninterrupted creation for the first time in a long time. While the kids are onto new horizons in their school life, I went back to basics to discover a fresh horizon for myself.”
Same Street is about connection even when our daily lives are untethered from each other, when life operates as it normally does.
Discover the exhibition online or at the Fenton & Fenton Showroom.