Melissa Appleton

Melissa Appleton is a producer, curator and spatial designer based in the Welsh Borders. Melissa is currently participating in de Appel Amsterdam’s Curatorial Programme 2022.

Previously Creative Director of Peak, an arts organisation based in the the Black Mountains, Melissa worked with artists and young people to undertake ‘the gentle work of the future’* in dialogue to the complexities, languages and colonial histories of this border region.

Melissa has a background in architecture and has developed programmes where spatial interventions act as mechanisms to access alternative histories, dream states or languages. These include Writtle Calling/2EmmaToc (2012), a radio station in an Essex field, Tonight the World (2019), a collaboration with Daria Martin for Barbican Curve, London & CJM, San Francisco and Quite Suddenly Your Smile is an Architecture (2017), an itinerant exhibition of the publishing projects of poet Jeff Nuttall.

Between 2008-12 Melissa co-directed Post Works with Matthew Butcher, a collaborative architecture studio making environments for dance and live performance. She previously worked for Office for Metropolitan Architecture (NY) and as an art fabrictor for Prototype New York.

Melissa taught at the Ruskin School of Art between 2011-19 and has also taught on art and architecture courses at the Royal College of Art, The Bartlett (UCL) and Nottingham University. 

* words by Owen Griffiths 


Storm Kitchen Talks

Cegin Storm Talks convened an online assembly of cooks, poets, geologists, growers, activists and artists to respond to 3 locations along the Mon & Brec canal – an artery of industrial expansion in South East Wales and now a designated heritage landscape. Conversations focused on forgotten colonial histories, food justice, telling stories the margins, deep time and commoning. 

Location: Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal 
Collaborators: Co-hosted with Owen Griffiths; artist commissions by Sadia Pineda Hameed and Beau W Beakhouse
Partners: Peak Cymru
Date: October 2020
talks programme, artist residencies & website 

Hinterlands Wales 

A programme of artist-led commissions, research and community structures on the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal featuring a floating art school Performance Butty, a habitat creation project Pont-y-Ddol and Ahoi! What Grows Here, a proposal for a slow food highway. 

Location: Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal 
Collaborators: Owen Griffiths, Ella Gibbs, Sam Makumba, Stefhan Caddick, Rebecca Chesney. 
Partners: Peak Cymru & Glandwr Cymru 
Date: 2018 – 2021 
arts programme  

How to Build a Valley 

Mapping workshops, a festival of ideas, walks and an exhibition expanding the timeline of Treherbert into the deep past and future. Hosting conversations on climate, land ownership, empire and industry to imagine the potential of public public land surrounding the village. 

Location: Treherbert, Rhondda
Collaborators: Project Skyline, Peak Cymru, Owen Griffiths, Gloria Giambartolomei, Sakina Sheikh.
Date: Spring 2018 – Summer 2019 

Photos: Mike Erskine and Vaida Barzdaite 
festival, exhibition & workshops 

Tonight the World 

‘My favourite part of the whole exhibition is a square that has been carved out of a screen that covers the breton brut on the walls of the Barbican.  There is one photograph of the modernist villa in it but you also see the breton brut concrete –it’s a very nice glimpse of the innards of the Barbican.’ Alice Rawsthorn,  design critic and writer, 30th January 2019, BBC Radio London.

Location: The Curve, barbican / Contemporary Jewish Museum 
Collaborator: Daria Martin 
Date: 2019 / 2020

Quite Suddenly Your Smile is an Architecture

An environment and event in a 2nd hand bookshop presenting the poetry and publishing projects of Jeff Nuttall, an artist who grew up in nearby Herefordshire. Nuttall’s self-published series My Own Mag was ‘a paper exhibition in words, pages, spaces, holes, edges and images’ and was exhibited with other publications in a structure borrowed from the plan of Bruce Lacey and Jeff Nuttall’s STigma environment, Better Books, London 1965.

Location: Broadleaf Books, Abergavenny 
Research: Henry Moore Institute Visiting Fellowship
Thanks: Jill Richards, Islwyn Watkins
Date: 2016
environment, exhibition and event