“I often used family photographs as a starting point for my prints. I began to wonder about the power these small pieces of paper hold, in terms of identity, evidence and truth.”
Melissa Campbell (born in 1973) is a fine art photographer currently based in Brighton, UK. She studied photography at “University of Brighton”. For Melissa Campbell photography means more than images printed on paper. She’s interested in examining its materiality and the truths and realities they contain.
Melissa Campbell is a British artist, based in Brighton. Her work explores memory, myths and lost histories. Recent bodies of work have considered the materiality of photographs, and the value we place upon them. Combining lens-based images with traditional printmaking processes, she explores the information they contain, and offers the viewer new ways to read them.
“Artist Profile” – Melissa Campbell
Melissa, why did you become a photographer? And what does photography mean to you?
I don’t consider myself to be a photographer, more of an artist who is interested in photographs. I originally worked as a lithographic printer, which is where my interest in the printed surface and visual information began.
I then studied printmaking in a fine art context, and found that I often used family photographs as a starting point for my prints. I began to wonder about the power these small pieces of paper hold, in terms of identity, evidence and truth.
How would you describe your photographic language and creative process? How do you plan and execute a project? Both technically and conceptually?
There is an uneasy sentimentality to my work.
It is a series of experimental process-led investigations, incorporating lens based images, found photographs and traditional printmaking techniques.
“Through ‘cross-pollination’ I can push the images further along.”
I enjoy playing detective, conducting the research that will provide the line of enquiry and inform my visual investigations. Experimentation and ‘happy accidents’ are vital to the way the work will evolve. I make notes as I go, so that I can retrace my steps and recreate a particular result. I often work in two processes at once, for example etching and photography, or photograms and photocopies. One process informs the other and through ‘cross-pollination’ I can push the images further along.
Which photographer has inspired you the most?
At the moment I am completely fascinated with John Hilliard’s work. I like the way he examines what happens when some of the visual information in a photograph is missing.
And I love “La Jetee” by Chris Marker. To me, it is the ultimate example of the power of the photographic image, and the narratives they can contain.
What’s your favourite inspirational quote about photography?
“It has to be ‘unfocused’ somehow, so that everyone can recognise something of their own self when viewing it.”
What kind of camera and equipment do you use?
Found photographs, HP scanner and printer, traditional printing press, Sony A77, Olympus OM10. There’s no hierarchy, they are all equally magical to me.
What’s your favourite website about photography?
I tend to look at Tumblr rather than any one website.
What book about photography would you recommend?
For me “Camera Lucida” by Roland Barthes was the perfect introduction to the seductive poetry of photographs, and to the limits of it’s truth.
What advice would you give someone who wants to get started with photography?
Take lots and lots of photographs. Test out the different styles and languages and find the one that feels natural to you. And don’t try to be fashionable.