That's Art! Mel Brimfield

30 Nov 2018

Born in Oxford in 1976, artist Mel Brimfield spent hours as a young girl copying drawings from comic books, including many Peanuts characters. Lucy and Peppermint Patty were her favourites, and she even performed as Lucy in a school production of a musical by her French teacher, called Good Ol' Charlie Brown.

As an artist her early work began as a research practice bent on challenging the prevailing themes of body, gender and identity politics. It has since developed to draw on photography, experimental theatre, writing and painting to build a series of alternative realities.

Brimfield is drawn to the psychological themes Schulz employed in Peanuts comic strips and Lucy's 'Psychiatric Help' booth holds particular appeal for the artist. Wary of the rising commodification of self-help in society, Brimfield finds it amusing that 'the neighbourhood bully' sets up as a shrink, as if at a lemonade stand, dispensing her opinions with inexhaustably high self-esteem.

Mel Brimfield Is NUTS, installed in Good Grief, Charlie Brown!
Mel Brimfield Is NUTS, installed in Good Grief, Charlie Brown!

A resident of Somerset House Studios, Brimfield is currently researching the care given to patients with complex and co-morbid psychoses at King's College London Department of Psychosis Studies. In her Talking Head Comics, 2018, she reconfigures the interviews she has had with various medical staff and alternative treatment providers into a series of dreawings in the narrative style of comic books.

She uses Lucy as an 'expert consultant psychiatrist' in dozens of sequential encounters to discuss the project, mental health, therapy and psychiatry generally.

Mel Brimfield, Nuts: Episode 5, 2018
Mel Brimfield, Nuts: Episode 5, 2018

For her Nuts series, she draws herself as Peanuts characters; these function like self-portraits involving Lucy and Brimfield's avatars in an ongoing therapeutic dialogue.

Text adapted from the Good Grief, Charlie Brown! exhibition catalogue. Buy your copy below.