Melissa Smith: The Blue of Distance

Above: Melissa Smith, Momentary Worlds (shower), 2017, intaglio collagraph/linocut  Ed. 5, 42.5 x 32 cm
Right: Melissa Smith, Worlds beyond Worlds II, 2017, linocut Ed. 2, 76 x 113 cm (diptych)
Below: Melissa Smith, Longing, 2017, intaglio collagraph/linocut  Ed. 4, 34 x 114 cm (diptych)

IMPRINT: What were some of the foundation ideas for ‘The blue of distance’ – its title indicates an interest in landscape and the world around us?

Melissa Smith: My prints have always referenced aspects of the landscape, in particular shifts that have occurred as a consequence to climatic changes. This work evolved from several visits to the isolated landscape of Melaleuca in the South West of Tasmania. Visiting such remote areas and the resonance of the history they contain can have a powerful impact on one. Such places are on the edges of our worlds where the blue at the horizon, the blue of land and sea that seems to dissolve into sky, is the blue of distance. There is solitude, a desire and a longing associated with such places.

IMPRINT: What is the history of your relationship to the South West of Tasmania and how have you interacted with this area?

MS: I was privileged to visit Melaleuca several times in the past 18 months in my role as a Roving Curator with Arts Tasmania. I was working with the Friends of Melaleuca Inc. on the development and implementation of an interpretation plan associated with the establishment of the Deny King Heritage Museum. The remoteness of these landscapes does have an impact on your senses and I was instantly seduced.

IMPRINT: Tasmania is rich with isolated landscapes – what are some of the echoes of this that make their way into your work?

MS: It is the ‘quietness’ of these landscapes and that feeling of truly ‘being’ in the place. There is also a sense of needing to hold on tightly to these landscapes, which remain precious, and warrant protecting within our ever-changing world that balances on a tipping point. There is a unique sense of self-awareness realised in such environments that is difficult to describe but that in turn emanates a sense of life and hope.

IMPRINT: What are your plans for future projects?

MS: I would like to explore the notion of distance in the landscape further and how it is interpreted. Rebecca Solnit’s writing has certainly inspired me. Potentially one of my future Roving Curator projects could take me to King Island in Bass Strait which would provide me with another isolated landscape to explore and be inspired by.