Press

'...Other works were documents of surreal gallery performance, and the highlight two photographs by Melanie Stidolph.  Almost too easy to overlook they had me repeatedly walking back up to figure out just how good was what I was looking at. I was reminded of a US photographer who tossed a ping pong ball into the frame at the moment of exposure, disrupting the document - but these - part of the Evidence brief - were personal and had an elegance.  They were beautiful.'

  • Pete McGovern blogspot, March 2015

'One of these apples is no longer attached to this tree. It was thrown into the camera's view and an image was made as it crashed through the branches and presumably fell to the ground, with some noise.  The photograph was not taken by a human hand, but rather by a motion detector; triggered by a single, unattached apple moving vertically through the frame.

Looking at this picture I know it is a photograph, and therefore I know the apple tree is dead. There is an absence in this image that attracts me to it.  Like other interesting photographs, this one thinks, like all other photographs, this one lies.  I enjoy this picture because I know there is nothing more difficult to photograph than an apple, but in some unavoidable way, I am lying too: if I think photography has nothing whatsoever to do with truth then any reflection upon it cannot contain a modicum of certainty.

...By taking away something in the making of this photograph, we are offered something dead and rotten with no sharp ends.  The picture allows us to think politically: to think beyond one human and one response and instead to the wider social function of a particular form of photographic technology as it relates to the authority of images' 

Full text - www.danielcampbellblight.com

  • Extract from 'Photographing Apples', Daniel C Blight

CM: 'Considering the technology engaged in enacting one of your photographic compositions, travelling from motion sensor to surveillance and burglar alarm, can the viewer shift from pondering the lightness of this seemingly innocuous, frozen moment to considering possible darker meanings - the possibility of mishap, accident, or even violence?

MS: When I was approaching making the work I was aware of consciously disconnecting my reasons for starting it with possible later readings of the work, to work in opposition to how I had previously made images.  I researched into as you say 'darker' meanings, looking at the notion of 'The Fall' as a physical fall, or a moral fall from grace.  I was looking at works like Bas Jan Ader's 'Fall' videos, for their literal connection, and then found his crying video.  For me these notions of grief and sense of self falling were very much part of making the work.'

Full text - www.photomonitor.co.uk

  • 'On Falling', Interview with Christiane Monarchi, Photomonitor

‘I first saw a Melanie Stidolph work at a group show at Keith Talent in 2006.  I loved it immediately.  It was a photo of some clouds.  But as well as loving it I also thought, eh, what’s going on here?  I mean, this was a show with works by Gordon Dalton, Clunie Reid, and Shaun Doyle and Mally Mallinson and then there was this – this, yes, let’s say it: beautiful image of some clouds. 

So, I go home and I check out the internet and here’s a website with more of Melanie Stidolph’s work and these images are making me go a bit weird – sort of really bad, clichéd images and yet..yet.. not.  She was doing something with clichés themselves.  Trying to find out why a cliché was a cliché.  How it became. 

I rarely use the word ‘bold’ and certainly never ‘brave’ to describe an artist’s work but I had at least to look in my thesaurus to try and take me close to deciding what Melanie does.  If you look too quickly you miss it.  But if you give it time, what she is doing is amazing.  Really out there and with subject matter that many artists just wouldn’t go near.  Brilliant.’

  • Russell Herron, Journals, published as catalogue text for 'The Russell Herron Collection', Sartorial Contemporary Art

'For those interested in new British art, the likeability and lightness of the work here paints a picture of a scene where no-strings attached pleasure is the dish of the day. 

... Melanie Stidolph's gorgeous photo of a toddler, haloed in sunlight, abandoning a swing and heading for us...Finally, there’s a second huge, graceful, yet vaguely threatening print by Melanie Stidolph, perhaps the best piece on display. This one is of a mare in a field looking down on its sleeping foal, with an expression that could be motherly love or pure menace, as if it just kicked its infant unconscious for misbehaving.'

  • 'Lust and Found', James Westcott, Artnet, 2005
  • Download

‘The tenor is aptly summed up by the title 'This Show is Ribbed For Her Pleasure' - an agile fusion of the sophomoric and hamfisted with the knowingly conceptual.  Although much of the work engages with visible currents in the contemporary scene, the show is an illuminating introduction to a lineup of British artists who have staked out their own wry patch of land - imagine Rabelais with a post-ironic insecurity about what's even funny anymore.

... Other standouts in the show include Melanie Stidolph's large-scale digital (sic) photos... Stidolph’s picture of a white horse and its foal has a strange intensity (due in part to its ethereal, washed out color-scheme) that refuses to be immediately characterized as "doing" this or that. The sincere beauty of the photo counterbalances the My Little Pony irony of the subject matter.’

  • ‘This show is ribbed for her pleasure’, Michael Paulson, NYArts Magazine, 2005
  • Download

'Melanie Stidolph’s new photographs find moments of quiet revelation in the details of everyday life.  Stidolph distils an unexpected drama from low-key subjects into still images which range from landscape to portrait compositions.  Working spontaneously in a documentary fashion, but with a medium format camera, Stidolph’s people, animals and places become quietly transformed into luminous, highly loaded moments.

Stidolph's practice is a highly distinctive and original cross-breed between the documentary and staged traditions within photography.  Specifically, her area of investigation lies in forging a dialogue between the humanist documentary tradition recently exemplified by Rineke Dikjstra and Helen van Meene and the cinematic tradition.  Like van Meene, she is driven by the desire to record exacting observations of her human subjects; like Jeff Wall by whom she was taught, she brings an acute understanding of historical picture-making to photography.

Her works establish a point midway between what Michael Fried labels the 'theatrical' and 'absorptive' traditions of picture-making. Stidolph's figures confront the viewer at near-life-size and feel to enter our own space, and yet the viewer is placed into the position of the photographer's own intimate encounter with the subjects, who are captured as being entirely unselfconscious.

Though Stidolph shoots spontaneously on medium format, her exceptional dexterity with the medium and compositional gifts mean that chance encounters and scenarios become unexpectedly iconic, monumental or 'made strange'.  Often what initially appears to be staged is slowly revealed as the record of quotidian circumstances.'

  • Alistair Robinson, Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art

'Melanie Stidolph attempts to spontaneously capture the unexpected drama of everyday life.  In her last exhibition at the NGCA, she reflected the chaos of the domestic family environment, offering images of young children wreaking havoc in the home as they wandered in their own internal worlds.

This time, she has focused on non-human subjects, presenting photographs of the natural world that are simultaneously endearing and menacing.  In one image, for example, a horse stands over a foal that could either be asleep or dead.  Such is the ambiguity of the scene, the viewer is left unsure as to whether they are looking at a case of parental devotion or infanticide.'

  • Melanie Stidolph, CC, Metro, 2005