This blog is a simple tribute to my long-standing mentor and very good friend, Melanie Tomlinson. Melanie is a well-known British designer and maker who specialises in illustration and metal. I first got to know her in Birmingham, UK, when working as Exhibitions Organiser for Craftspace, over 15 years ago. She´s a true professional in every sense and is very deserving of her success; she was recently invited to exhibit in an international jewellery fair in New York, is regularly awarded artist residencies both in the UK and internationally, and designs special ranges for prestigious clients such as the Tate Modern in London. Melanie lives and works in Birmingham, Britain´s second largest city, but it is her passion for nature and love for all living creatures and her connection with Romania via her husband Bogdan that are her main sources of inspiration.
As a maker it´s so important to have a mentor or adviser and Melanie and I have been co-mentoring each other for over 10 years now. Although we work in very different media and situations we both face many of the same challenges. So we are in regular contact via Skype, email and by phone and offer help and advice on numerous issues from marketing to stress management to design issues and focussing. We help each other go to beyond our comfort zone and dare to cover new ground and when we (as all makers do from time to time) suffer disappointments we help each other to get back up again and move forward.
Melanie is currently here at the textile studio on a creative retreat. But we found some time for her to try weaving on a loom for the first time. We were both really glad that she was able to cross over to my world of looms and weaving. Because working with metal and illustration is so different to weaving fabrics. She wove a fabulously coloured and patterned sample – as you would expect. And now she has a much better idea of what I´m talking about when we we talk about weave. Next time I´m in Birmingham, where Melanie lives and works, I´m going to try my hand at printing on aluminium under her expert tuition.
I can´t wait!
Thank you Mel for all your friendship and support over the years.