Melissa Macleod has a modernist's eye for form, and a sculptor's sense of placement and rigour with materials. In Overlay, her first solo project at Jonathan Smart Gallery, she uses sand and woodchips from trees drowned at South Brighton to reference east side vulnerability post-quake. She also uses her body photographed prone as flood protection across a track in Brighton estuary.
This work mimics in part, the form of Dead Wood, the massive floor work in the front gallery. Here flood socks stuffed with woodchips are both barrier and filter. The matt black cloth is (EnviroCore) filtering felt, which helps to clean and to heal waterways. So this is not just about containment. The work is broad, strong and curvy. It is a serious occupation of space - weighty and substantial.
The framed drawings are similarly ambitious in scale and pure of form. Brighton beach sand is raked with cardboard on to PVA, creating clean cylindrical plug-like shapes that occupy the upper three-quarters of their large paper grounds. They seem to float. The spatula-like marks of manipulation give the works a graphic lightness and movement and texture, as well as a curiously wet look. Load, the smallest and heaviest (as it comprises two layers of sand) muscles up with a density that is utterly compelling.
Overlay is a terrific show. Twenty-two years after graduating in sculpture at Ilam under Andrew Drummond, and having recently completed an MFA, Melissa Macleod is once again shifting weight, working with perceptions of body, land and water as only sculptors can do.JS
Press release courtesy Jonathan Smart Gallery.