Six questions for
Veerle Melis

Tique asks six questions to an artist about their work and inspiration.
This week: Veerle Melis.

Artist Veerle Melis
Lives in Brussels, Belgium and Tilburg, the Netherlands

How do you describe your own art practice?

I used to say I’m a textile based artist but since I started to use paper in a non-textile way, I haven’t yet found a simple way to describe my practice. As a self-taught artist, I’m mostly figuring out while making. Almost every material I pick up is new to me, and so are the techniques I work with. In general, I strive for maintaining an element of learning-through-making in my work and once I become too familiar with a certain technique, I know it’s time to jump to a new material.

Which question or theme is central in your work?

Even though the materials I work with differ, I think my work is an ongoing investigation into what it means to create. In a way, each new work starts with a curiosity or question that was triggered while making previous works. Working with long, meditative labor-intensive techniques leads to a lot of small and bigger insights, mistakes and associations. Paying close to these moments of insight tells me something about how dynamics of creation unfold.

What was your first experience with art?

When I was little, my cousins got a plastic play house. I was a bit jealous of them but realized that I could make my own and started folding bricks from a yellowish paper that I stacked on top of each other to create the exterior walls. I would get up early before school to start working, but abandoned the project once the walls started collapsing. Even though I didn’t complete my play house, this memory holds a lot of elements that are relevant in my practice today.

What is your greatest source of inspiration?

I am interested in ‘making’ in a very broad and manual sense and take inspiration from architecture, craftsmanship, functionality and decoration in different levels of skill and execution. I love make-shift solutions to everyday problems and am curious about the role of the amateur in art. I also just like to watch how plants in my living room entangle or to sit in a field and observe how bugs behave.

What do you need in order to create your work?

My studio, friends to surround myself with and just enough moments of distraction. My side job or another source of income to feel financially secure.

What work or artist has most recently surprised you?

I loved to discover the work of Nina Katchadourian at the Morgan Library in New York. I went for the collection of the museum but discovered this show by accident. I spent a lot of time with her works and had to giggle a lot about the brilliant parallels she drew between different archival pieces from the library and her own work. I felt seen in my way of thinking, and I think it is very special when an artist or exhibition can offer that.

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