Artist's Statement: New art made from the ashes of the Glasgow School of Art fire

By Melissa Maloco | 03 July 2014

Artist’s Statement: Melissa Maloco, a Fine Art Photography graduate from the Glasgow School of Art, on using a door and carbon dust from the fire at the school’s Mackintosh building

A photo of a woman looking at a charcoal-style artwork inside a modern art gallery
Curator Theresa Moerman Ib takes a look at Melissa Maloco's Negotiation of Space (A Door Closing and Opening), created using ash from her studio which was destroyed in the fire in the Mackintosh building. All of the artist's Degree Show work was lost© Courtesy Theresa Moerman Ib
“Negotiation of Space (A Door Opening and Closing) was my favourite work in my Degree Show presentation.

When I was invited to make work for the GSA at the Dunoon exhibition my first thought was to remake this work in some way.

The fire was such a huge, pivotal moment in all of our lives making the pieces felt necessary as a means of processing the event.

The fact that the carbon used in these drawings came directly from the Mackintosh building after the fire added another layer to the already loaded material.

I felt that there was something very fitting and beautiful in the use of a material born out of destruction and tragedy ‘giving life’ to new artwork. Also, being granted access to the Mack post-fire to create the work really helped me to deal with and process the incident.

Throughout my final year I had been working a lot with carbon, dust and general bi-products of the everyday from both ourselves and our environment, making large, abstract sweeping drawings with carbon as a means of representing our passage through space, and anchoring the momentary human presence.

My practice is an ongoing exploration of the dialogue between ourselves and our surroundings; a visualisation of connections in the everyday.

Seemingly abstract images record the absence of an activity, solidifying the unseen. Hovering between presence and absence, they are abstract marks created from very concrete acts. It is reality, but not always tangible.

I am interested in finding a way to make materials that lack intimacy vessels for emotion, reconstructing the domestic and using process to generate narrative within the work.

I am keen to explore our relationship with the unseen and re-establish our connection to the unobserved.

‘Nothing’ refers to the presence of something; it is just something other than what is being sought.

The carbon used in the drawings came from both the Library and Studio 32, my own degree show space, and the drawings serve as a sort of conclusion to this area of my practice.  

There is a power in their subtlety that speaks of the incident and the emotions felt far more effectively than my words ever could.”

  • Part Seen, Imagined Part: GSA in Dunoon is at the Burgh Hall, Glasgow from July 4-26 2014.

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