Flying Falling; Memento Mori by Karen Melvin

Flying Falling; Memento Mori by Karen Melvin

Karen Melvin: Artist’s statement

As a way of looking at the exquisite beauty of birds, I started photographing still life arrangements of dead birds in my garden. I am aware of issues around loss of habitat and climate change and use this to inform my imagery. Finding and tracking the small insignificant deaths of birds in a garden, domestic “memento mori”, mirrors the complexity of environmental change and catastrophe. These little scraps of nature and found debris are merged with drawings from my sketchbooks in montaged scrolls and hand printed pigment inkjet prints, worked on afterwards, making a unique edition.


Karen Melvin studied Fine Art at the University of Michigan and the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK (BA Hons), then lectured in photography at Cleveland College of Art and Design, UK, and was an adviser on photography for Northern Arts. She has exhibited widely and received many Arts Council awards for photography projects.

Karen Melvin was third prize winner in Open Up North, Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal, 2014. She was selected for the Great North Art Affair and exhibition Borealis at Flowers East Gallery, London in 2005. She received an Arts Council England photography production grant for Paper Dolls in 2004 and a two-year Arts Council England Mentoring Scheme award in 2002.  She was artist in residence for the Middlesbrough 2000 Millennium Festival touring to the Millennium Dome.

Recent solo exhibitions include Flying Falling, the Customs House, Tyne & Wear, 2017; Beyond Paper Dolls, Art at 830, Key West, Florida, USA, 2010; Paper Dolls, Myles Meehan Gallery, Darlington, 2005; Constellation, MAC Centre, Birmingham, 2004; and All Heaven and Earth, Tom Blau Gallery, London, 2001

Group shows include : Collection No.2, Shepherds Dene, 2016; Open Up North, Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal, 2014; Margins, Queens Hall Arts Centre, Hexham, 2013; 28: A Celebration of the Myles Meehan Gallery, Darlington, 2012; Points of Conjecture, Duchess Gallery, Kielder, Northumberland, 2012; Dover Prize, Darlington Arts Centre, 2010; Water, Queens Hall Arts Centre, Hexham, 2009; Bridging, Kirkharle Arts Centre and Brisbane, Australia, 2008; Night Thoughts, Royal West of England Academy, Bristol, 2008; Edge 2, Theatre by the Lake, Keswick, 2007, Borealis, Flowers East Gallery, London, 2005: Green Thoughts in a Green Shade, The Garden Station, Northumberland, 2005; Thinking the Unthinkable, Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland, 2005; The Unlimited Dream Company, curated by Alistair Robinson, for The Biscuit Factory, Newcastle, 2005: New new new, Kent Gallery, Key West, Fla, U.S.A, 2005. International Women’s Festival: We Create, University of Teeside, 2002