Melanie Cooper is an Adelaide based visual artist and art historian. Specialising in early eighteenth-century art and visual culture her practice is a departure from this representational style. Melanie contributed to the proliferation of yarn bombing in Adelaide through collaborative projects such as the Queen Victoria Yarn Bomb with Nonna Reckless and Julie Collins. Her exhibition Reset and Resist at The Floating Goose Gallery runs until the 29th October.
The Floating Goose Gallery reveals itself to Morphett street with two large windows - in each window hangs one of Melanie Cooper's textile works. From inside the gallery, we can see the reverse of these works, exposing their vulnerability to the internals of the gallery. The remaining pieces in Reset and Resist are conventionally hung - keeping to the wall - in the white cube gallery space. Her textile works and paintings hang side by side, and although different in medium, the visual language between them is consistent. The continuity of the hang suggests that perhaps this is not simply textile work, but painting in the expanded field.
There is a strong tactile element throughout. Foundations are built on the canvas and reveal themselves as a sort of underpainting, holding the history of Cooper's process. The works ask us to consider if we are observing an abstraction or extrapolation of architectural conventions, cartography or hieroglyphs. Forms which are at once familiar and foreign act as points of connection for the viewer, guiding them through the works.
The two mediums find commonality in texture and approaches to mark making. Traces of paint dripping from the canvas are overlaid with thicker, more fluid lines. So too - single strands of wool converge as blocks of colour and are obscured by more intricately crocheted forms. There are a multitude of techniques applied to both surfaces.
Cooper references automatic writing and intuition in her artist statement. Ideas of intuitive and gestural making are juxtaposed with well considered colours and thoughtful layering. The intuitive is further explored by the laborious translation of similar marks into stitching.
Terra Firma is recognisably domestic. Familiar knitted stitches give way to a canvas of heavily layered looped yarn. Though the yarn is primarily worked in one way, careful attention has been taken to vary the length of the loops - some cut and some left whole - making the entire piece incredibly rich and varied in its topography.
Unlike the textile works, Cooper's painting Exile harbours fewer hard-line boundaries. Colour flows throughout its layers and rhythms - it feels as if there is electricity in the air. This painting stands alone in the gallery space as an atmospheric landscape. We observe heavily graphic lines competing against misty painterly areas.
Cooper states her making 'embod[ies] ... mediative labour'. However, the result is a body of dynamic works which hold within them form and colour. The works are generous in giving the viewer space to contemplate their own emotional response.
 As written in Melanie Cooper's artist statement.