ART WEEK PROFILE : Melissa Young

ART WEEK PROFILE : Melissa Young

As a part of ART WEEK we are running an exhibition called ‘TEN’ this is a duo Exhibition with Painter - Cam Munroe & Sculptor - Melissa Young. These two Artists are both from the capital in Windy Wellington & are a dynamic duo, their works complement each other beautifully.


Find out more about Melissa Young and her practice as a sculptor below.


What do you make?

I produce delicate but visually strong figures in bronze, often balanced in impossible (unachievable/ unattainable) positions. The pieces range in size from handheld to larger sculptures which are just under half a metre in height. My bronzes are cast using the lost wax method.


How has your artwork changed over time?

When I first started sculpting in my mid-twenties, my pieces were more traditional. As I have defined my style my work has become finer, more delicate. This means that more time is involved with making each piece and that they are more difficult to cast at the foundry.


Where do you find the most inspiration as an Artist?

Sculpting for me over the past ten years has revolved around being a working parent. My storylines and ideas are forever linked with my home, work, parenting and personal lives. I often describe my work as a social commentary on (my) life.


What do you love about living & working in New Zealand?

The part of New Zealand that I live in is Wellington. I love the size of my city. When I am craving urban life, it only takes about 15 minutes to drive to the city fringe and Cuba Street where there are wonderful places to eat and people watch. When I need an outdoor fix, the south coast of Wellington is only a 5 minute walk away where you instantly get energized by the sea air.



Artwork : Spoon Fed (medium), Spoon Fed (large), Spoon Fed (small)


What is your studio/creative space like?

I have two spaces that I work from at my home. My workshop is under the house - this is where I do all my messy jobs: making moulds of my new pieces, pouring waxes, and grinding and finishing my cast work. It doesn’t have a wonderful view but if I need to quickly stop work I know I can close the door to the workshop and everything will be safe and ready for my return.

Inside my home I am meant to work from my studio space (come spare room and music room) not the 60% of the house that I tend to work in. The laundry and kitchen get used when I am colouring my pieces and the TV room gets used when I am cleaning up my waxes. In winter I will work in the dining room where it’s warmer and the lighting is better. It’s just depends on how I feel and what job I am working on.


What are the inspiration/stories/themes behind your exhibiting pieces of work?


During 2016-17 we had a lot of changes happening to our family with our child moving schools. Where once she was a big fish in a small pond, her new reality is being a small fish in a big pond.


It’s hard learning life experiences when they are not fun ones. Learning how to pick yourself up and continue on, even though the easiest solution in your mind would be to simply quit, run away or cry.


Part of preparing our daughter to the realities of life is being genuine with her and setting achievable goals - yes you are a good mid-field netball player but you are short (my gene pool – sorry) and the likelihood of you being chosen for the top Yr. 7 & 8 netball team is slim. However three netball trials later she was chosen for the third top team and we were all happy with this outcome.


We have helped build up her perseverance and resilience when things get hard and don’t go her way. During 2017 Torie faced her biggest personal challenge when she started training for Surf Life Saving under 14 years old Ocean’s Competition. There was a big step up into the Ocean’s age group. It was tough learning new board skills, and being small in stature didn’t help Torie when all of a sudden all her peers appeared to have grown a head taller than her. Being at the back of the pack during training wasn’t fun.


We just want her to know that as long as she gives new things a proper go and tries her best then this is all we can ask of her. I think if I had said to her half-way through the season that if she wanted to give up surf, she could, she would have said yes. But because Torie had chosen and wanted to do the Ocean’s Comp (and not her parents), she needed to follow through with her obligations. By the end of the season, and before we headed off to Ocean’s Competition in early 2018, she was attending four surf training sessions a week.


We knew she had worked hard and put in the hours with training but the thing holding her back was her mind, her mental game was off. We had seen it at the local surf carnivals. In the sand events she performed well, because she could do them they were easier for her, but with the water events it was a different story, she had psyched herself out before an event had even started. For a few weeks I became her sports psychologist with the help of the internet.


At Ocean’s, there were highs and lows. One Ocean’s event stands out in my mind as there was tension and anxiety (within me). Torie was in a team board relay and the last person to go out for her team. The coach had put the stronger girls ahead of Torie, the strategy being the team should be in a good position come Torie’s turn. Unfortunately that didn’t happen and Torie was the last person standing waiting to be tagged to go out. I was very anxious standing behind the line, all I was thinking was is she OK? Is she coping being in last place…? Once she was tagged and started to paddle out to the buoy, I could then go forward to the water’s edge and watch her return into shore on her board. There was the hugest smile on her face from ear to ear. She had a great paddle out and caught a strong wave into shore. The team came in second to last but that ride had cemented in her mind that she could do it. After that event I knew that Torie’s head space was OK.


In my short term role of being a personal sports psychologist, I found this quote which I liked and thought was very appropriate. ‘Your mind will quit a thousand times before your body does. Feel the fear and do it any way’.


Pieces: Extension, High Stakes, It’s a Long Way Up, On the Edge, Take the Plunge, Taking Grannie Steps and There is Only One Way – Forward


Finding my Inner Yogie

I really look forward to my Monday mornings when I can momentarily close the door to my world. Once I step into the 9.30 am yoga class and am in the first set position, my mind goes arrhhh...


It's my self-imposed time out session from life and family where for an hour I can escape and come out feeling that my mind is balanced and body calm.


I am not sure if the calmness is due to having someone telling me what I need to do, or not having to think about multiple things at once, or is it that my brain is able to switch off and rest for an hour?


I can’t do all the extreme poses and I’d like to be more flexible but it doesn’t matter - yoga is my refresh button. I really enjoy the session I go to and if I miss my Monday class my mind and body are not quite ready for my working week ahead.


Pieces: Balance & Control, Fortitude, It’s all About Balance.



Seeking Sanity


Organising my world can send me a wee bit loopy from time to time. Those moments when there is far too much on and I am jumping through hoops juggling my child’s school life, after-school activities, social events…let alone my own work and keeping the home running smoothly. Coming to the end of the year (2018), my home-life goals shrunk down dramatically to my bare minimum of healthy food/meals and clean clothes but every other day my neurotic vacuum cleaning disorder would need a fix otherwise there would be a monkey on my back distracting me.


I have come to realise that the routine of having food served at the right time is important for my child. When her blood sugar levels get low she can become nasty, and I open myself up to guest starring in my very own crazy cartoon episode of ‘Tom & Jerry’. She goes to the dark side where she can’t think rationally and only comfort food will do (god forbid you cook something new and different … something you may feel like).


Pieces: Loop de Loop, Loopy, Nutty, Tom & Jerry and Tom & Tom.



Spoon Fed


Do I do too much for my child?


My husband and I were tested during the summer school holidays by our child.


We had non-verbal huffs, puffs & grunts, stomping of feet, slamming of doors and selective hearing when we have simply asked her to do jobs around the house (like empty the dishwasher and load it up with the dirty dishes sitting on the bench).


I have created a sprat (a spoilt brat).


To add insult to injury, during this summer we decided to redecorate her room, spending a majority of our holiday time working on it. What really disappointed us most was the lip service we received from her. Her initial words of thanks and gratefulness for redecorating her room seemed empty and token when all her subsequent responses to being asked to do the odd job for us were negative.


I am not expecting her to clean the whole house by herself but I do expect her (as she is ten) to pull her own weight by:


  • Cleaning up her own messes –in her room and the trail of stuff that is left behind her as she enters or exits our home.
  • Loading and unloading the dishwasher and if it breaks down (god forbid) know how to wash dishes by hand.
  • Being able to use a vacuum cleaner and know where it lives in our home.


More importantly do her part, as part of our family and our household, and that means helping around the house.



Walking a Fine Line


Things are changing in my home as my child becomes a mini big person with puberty starting. She is growing up and has her own opinions about herself and her life.


I am finding that I have to be careful with what I say and how it is delivered. No more just telling her what to do, discussion and her input are important and required now.


This is particularly hard if it’s the end of a long day or week and we are all tired. Words can easily be misconstrued in a Nano second, and add hormones into the mix, and conversations can erupt into arguments at the drop of a hat over a seemingly small thing. Being rational is out the window and discussion can only be resumed after a good night’s sleep.


Relearning how to deal with my preteen is hard as I am quite upfront with my family. Being able to say what I want without it offending, or making sure that the situation doesn’t implode on us, can be difficult. It’s a team effort getting both the parents and the child onto the same page and making sure there isn’t the stomping of feet and slamming of doors, especially if the night’s topic is -Time Limits on Devices.


Pieces: On a Knife’s Edge, On Thin Ice and Walking a Fine Line.


What drew you to working with The Poi Room?

I was approached by the lovely Melanie-Jane back in 2007. I think I had just had my daughter and my brain was very fuzzy adjusting to a new born baby and my new role as a parent, when Melanie-Jane popped in to see me and talk about her new baby ‘The Poi Room’.


Artwork : Single Cats


Describe your relationship with The Poi Room, and how our values fit your business?

My relationship with Melanie-Jane and Clayton is very supportive; they want me to do well. I like the way that they connect with people, whether you are an artist or a customer, the relationship is not one sided. They are genuine and it’s not just a business transaction.


Want to see the work in person at The Poi Room?

The Poi Room will have 'TEN' a duo exhibition with Painter - Cam Munroe & Sculptor - Melissa Young running for the entire duration of Art Week at their New Market Gallery.

TEN will be launching the exhibition this Saturday with the wonderful opportunity to 'meet the makers' from 02:00pm - 03:00 pm. Champagne & delicious cheese board will be provided.
The exhibition will only be present within the NEWMARKET (17 Osborne St) Gallery.