Mellony Taper

Palimpsests and Ghost Signs: Time, Memory and Perception

My current work engages processes that suggest layers of memory, and evoke a sense of time having passed, perhaps something lost, reflecting upon the fluidity of time and our tenuous grasp of it.

I think of my work as a series of palimpsests, or ghost signs: layers rewritten and over written. Places, people and experiences leave their imprint upon our lives, and we, in turn, might leave an imperceptible trace on the world as we pass through it. The layering of process mirrors the strata of memories we build up over a lifetime, from which our sense of self and identity is created; continually reworked, partially erased, and painted again.

Themes of childhood and memory play a strong part since the birth of my daughter, taking my work in a new direction. Observing her experience and perception of memory and place has brought new focus to my interest in layers (both in physical layers - paint, images, and in the metaphysical layers of age, memory, being human). Time feels more fleeting, experience more transient, now.

This manifests itself both in subject matter and quite literally in the production and technique employed in making and creating - be that layers upon layers of pigment ; or layer upon layer of photograph, drawing, painting, text.

Elusive confusions: what am I seeing here? Is this scene, this place, this memory ‘real’? What is remembered? What is photograph, what is pigment?

Subtle visual conflicts invoke this fluidity of time and place: repeated figures in an image, not immediately obvious. Or light that transforms into a painterly stroke as your brain tries to catch up, seeks the story, the ‘making sense’.

In other works I explore the urban palimpsests that surround us, influenced by graffiti, street art, posters, signage and street furniture and the stories they carry. I often add textual elements to these works.