Artist Series

Mellaney Roberts

Abide With Me | 2023

Abide with me, fast falls the eventide
The darkness deepens Lord, with me abide
When other helpers fail and comforts flee
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me

My current body of work, collectively titled: Abide with Me” is named after a family hymn that my grandmother sang after evening prayer. The hymn served the purpose of a prayer casting a spell of protection over her loved ones within her presence or her distant family. The hymn is one of the underlying inspirations for the body of work focusing on the concept of home that embodies a physical, emotional, spiritual, and social space where individuals feel comfort, protection, and a sense of belonging.

Home can be seen as a geographical location or a thought, an abstract memory tied to loved ones or engaging in activities that bring joy and contentment. The body of work consists of monumental ceramic sculptures inspired by a place where I spent much of my childhood in the Baviaanskloof. A place that speaks of family and community.

I use ceramic sculptures to focus on a memory narrative through the concept of home and the relationship between object, space, and time. When constructing these forms, I constantly question what defines a place to be called home, ranging from the physical structure of memory to the emotional and spiritual space within home. These domelike morphing abstract clay structures are also influenced by architecture designed to be safe spaces embued with personal significance and emotional attachments.

These sculptures are also cover by the hymn represent a sanctuary to where the individual can retreat, recharge, and express their true selves. The forms are often cut, pierced, or demarcated to show breathing moments and create quiet spaces during complexities within the home and family dynamic. These demarcations cut through window and door spaces in the forms to create passages between the physical and the spiritual presence.
The forms are constructed to emphasise that home extends beyond physical boundaries, and yet home does include a sense of community, belonging, and the surrounding environment. These are the support system that fosters the sense of belonging and enhances the concept of home.

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