Forfar exhibit tells sad family story

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The Meffan in Forfar has welcomed the work of critically acclaimed photographic artist Melanie Sims for its latest exhibition.

‘The Lost Sister’ Opened at the West High Steet gallery on Friday (February 18) , is a compelling and deeply personal show solo and is the Glasgow-based artist’s emotional response to uncovering and unravelling the story of her mother’s lost sister, Doreen, who was never spoken of and who had slipped from her family’s history.

Using photography, textiles and installation to explore this lost personal history, the beautiful, multi-layered works consider notions of loss, denial and the sister bond.

Melanie believed her mother to be an only child but came across a photograph of a little girl leaning against a tree and asked her mother if it was her.

She said: “The answer was a surprise. It revealed a secret and a story but one that was never to be told.”

Melanie then gathered together fragments of the story from the coded diaries of her grandfather, a handful of photographs and scant hospital records which incredibly had survived for 50 years.

Doreen – the lost sister – was confined to an asylum for her whole life suffering from epilepsy, a condition which was poorly understood in the 30s and 40s.

Melanie added: “It’s clear to me that Doreen’s situation had a deep impact but neither my mother, or my Grandfather, spoke about her.

“In working to bring this story into the open I’ve realised how despite her being hidden, Doreen was a very important part of my family’s history.”

In ‘The Lost Sister’ Melanie explores questions of connection, broken bonds and denial, and has attempted to express the intangibility of a forgotten story by finding a visual language for it.

The results are highly moving and the public response to the exhibition, which has been shown previously in Glasgow and Lancashire, has been very strong.

A self-taught artist, Melanie’s work has received critical acclaim for its distinctive style of multi-layered imagery, which blurs the boundaries between what is real and what is imaginary.

With a background in multimedia performance and collaboration, ‘The Lost Sister’ also incorporates work by Fife poet Ronnie Kerr, who Melanie has worked with previously.

Ronnie has written beautiful sonnets as his own response to the subject of Melanie’s show, one of which was featured as ‘Poem of the Day’ in The Scotsman.

The exhibition will run at The Meffan Museum and Art Gallery, 20 West High Street, until Saturday, March 18.