On the Ground

Image Credit: Blue Moonscape, © Jenny Mellings 2017


Over the past couple of years, aside from other aspects of her practice, Jenny Mellings has made a series of paintings following a short volunteering visit to the Jungle Camp at Calais in January 2016.  She, like countless other volunteers, some much longer term, also went along there with the sole intention of helping people in need. But the experience remained so strongly in mind that over the months since then, images have appeared, based on impressions of the camp and warehouse, and the few photographs she took during breaks. They are made on Indian cotton rag paper, and painted with pigments from various parts of Europe and the Middle East, including lapis lazulae from Afghanistan, ochres from France and Germany, red earth from Sidmouth, Devon, and Bideford Black.

The idea of this exhibition has arisen from an awareness of the fact that there are still many vulnerable refugees in Northern France whose lives depend upon support that is still not being provided by governments. For example, the remaining small team of dedicated volunteers at Refugee Community Kitchen in Calais, is still feeding around 1,500 people two meals per day. All of their work relies upon donations of resources and time from the greater community as it has done since it began in the autumn of 2015. Therefore it is hoped that this small body of work might help as a reminder that the crisis is still happening. 

All the paintings are for sale, (also postcards) and 50% of any amount raised by this will go directly to Refugee Community Kitchen (or similar group if the situation changes in the meantime). The remaining 50% will cover costs and perhaps make another volunteering trip possible in the near future.

This endeavour began via fundraising efforts with Creative Collective for Refugee Relief/Art Without Borders on Facebook in 2015, and earlier, similar groups such as CARA. Those involvements alongside various news reports were what prompted her journey to Calais in the first place. Whilst there she met with a group of volunteers from Bridport Unitarian Chapel in the Garden, who then hosted an ‘On the Ground’ event over one weekend last autumn. It goes without saying that this is just one of many of events and responses that have taken place there, and worldwide in recent years by groups and individuals, including refugees themselves, who want to take direct humane action in response to the plight of refugees in Europe and beyond. 



Jenny Mellings’ significant preoccupations include landscapes, current events, remote places, space travel, the virtual world, and memory.  These and other themes are ruminated over, and visions made manifest via painting, drawing, film and photography.

Jenny has also worked in South West England as a lecturer in fine art, history of art teacher and led gallery/museum workshops in multiple media including animation.


Related News

Tax relief for exhibitions

18 Apr 2017

Arts Council England announces guidance on tax relief for museums and galleries to reclaim some of the cost of putting on exhibitions.

Claire Doherty announced as new Director of Arnolfini

25 Apr 2017

Arnolfini announce appointment of Situations' Claire Doherty as new Director of Arnolfini from 1st August 2017.

Creative Industries Federation launches a general election manifesto for the creative industries

26 Apr 2017

The Creative Industries Federation has launched its manifesto for all political parties for the general election. It builds on the industrial strategy document recently submitted to government.

Arts and culture downgraded in ministerial restructure

20 Jun 2017

Arts and culture downgraded in ministerial restructure at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Register now to take part in Jamm Europe

23 Jun 2017

Jamm’Europe is an ephemeral online platform, an open space, to discuss what role culture and the arts can play in the future of Europe. Which scenarios, what policy proposals we, cultural players aspire to? How do we envision Europe of Culture?

Teaching excellence framework (TEF) results 2017

23 Jun 2017

The results of the 2017 teaching excellence framework (TEF) have been released, with more than 130 UK universities and other higher education institutions being awarded gold, silver or bronze ratings for the quality of their teaching.

ACE announce NPO funding decision including 103 South West organisations

27 Jun 2017

Arts Council England have announced their National Portfolio Organisations funding decision, including 103 South West organisations

Artists and organisations in South West respond to NPO decisions - updated

28 Jun 2017

Following ACE's NPO announcement South West artists and organisations respond to the decisions

Artists' Union England respond to South West NPO decision

28 Jun 2017

Beth Davis-Hofbauer, AUE representative for the south central region of England, discusses NPO decisions and the importance of paying artists.

The Creative Industries Federation launches Creative Freelancers report

19 Jul 2017

The Creative Industries Federation has launched the Creative Freelancers report, hightlighting the large proportion of creative workers in the creative industries who are freelance and calling for their needs to be properly understood by government.

Plymouth College of Art appoints Christy Johnson as Vice Principal

11 Oct 2017

Plymouth College of Art has appointed Christy Johnson as its second Vice Principal

Statement on the closure of alias - the Artist-Led Initiative Advisory Service

24 Oct 2017

The Artist-Led Initiative Advisory Service (alias) has announced that it has ceased all activities effective from October 2017.

ACE Museum & Gallery Exhibition Tax Credit Briefings

12 Feb 2018

In March 2018 Arts Council England will be hosting a series of briefing events across England to support museums and galleries to understand and benefit from the Museum and Gallery Exhibitions Tax Relief.

VASW appoints three new members to its steering group

19 Feb 2018

Visual Arts South West is delighted to welcome three new members to its steering group: Zoe Li, Emily Bull and Lara Goodband.

Why the arts make us more employable, and why the creative industries are our international economic life-raft

05 Mar 2018

The Cultural Learning Alliance and The Edge Foundation have released Briefing Paper No. 2: Employability & Enterprise: Why the arts make us more employable, and why the creative industries are our international economic life-raft.

Spike Island Director Helen Legg is appointed Director of Tate Liverpool

20 Mar 2018

It is announced that Helen Legg, current Director of Spike Island, has been appointed the new Director of Tate Liverpool.

Action Hero become an NPO and share their ethical policy

06 Apr 2018

Bristol-based Action Hero – the collaboration of live art and performance makers Gemma Paintin and James Stenhouse – have this week become an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) and announced their ethical working policy.

CVAN Regional Strategy Consultation

09 Apr 2018

CVAN want to make sure their national strategic plan is as responsive and effective as possible and so they are currently consulting the regional networks.

Visual Arts South West

Working towards a South West where talented artists thrive, and a resilient and connected visual arts ecology that inspires more engaged and diverse audiences to value and advocate for its work.

Part of the Contemporary Visual Arts Network

Supported by: