Toby Melville Brown – Inspired by Dungeness

Dungeness on Romney Marsh is a unique landscape, and one that continuously draws people from all disciplines to study and create there.

 

One such person is artist Toby Melville-Brown, who has created a zine about Dungeness to help share his love of this special place. We chatted to Toby to find out more.

 

What do you find so special about Dungeness?

Its many disparate elements; the unique fauna and flora. Flotsam and jetsam that has accumulated over many years. Dwellings like nowhere else, shaped by a history of fishing, war, and escapism. One of the most joyous train rides in the country. And then, that big white elephant – a nuclear power plant! I know all those elements have come together randomly but it feels like they’ve been curated by some mad creative wizard on a world simulation game. I love it.

I have a long relationship with Dungeness. As a child, we used to holiday in Rye and so I can recall windswept excursions to this headland. As an art school student, I came with my camera and sketchbook. And now as an artist with 10 years of experience, I approach the area as a local resident, with a sense there is the reason I keep coming back here. This project is the result of that realisation. And a concerted effort to celebrate all the wonderful elements that make Dungeness what it is.

 

Why do you think so many people are drawn to create here?

The atmosphere in Dungeness is uncanny. So unique, it’s hard to describe. I think it’s that mission to describe Dungeness and the effect it has on us, that drives so many to create here. Whether that medium is words, film, sculpture, or sound, we’re all essentially saying; “This place is incredible. I want you to feel this but it’s hard to convey without you being here.” Of course, the content people create here is not always directly related to Dungeness but I believe there will always be an element of the landscape in those creations.

 

What prompted you to make a zine?

I love Dungeness. But my visits often consist of a befuddled stroll, then back in the car. I thought; ‘wouldn’t it be great if there was a booklet that gave me practical and theoretical suggestions to engage with Dungeness?’ And so the zine includes activities and visual stimulations that give all ages and dispositions a little nudge.

 

What does the zine cover?

It’s a sort of adult activity booklet. Each page seeks to engage with people in a different way. For example; there’s a drawing of an imaginary monument to Derek Jarman, a haiku challenge, a people-spotting activity, and much more. The zine also comes with a postcard and a handy map.

 

Are you working on anything at the moment?

I am currently working on a fundraising project for a children’s charity. It’s an effort to bring people of all ages into my practice through workshops and activities. The premise is simple; I send out a drawing of a home to many children and invite them to draw themselves in it. Their drawing is then sent back to me and incorporated into a larger artwork of many homes, with many wonderful inhabitants. This project considers the importance of home as a space that is stable but allows for the wonderful chaos of children’s play. The artwork will be sold as prints and a tee to raise money for Action For Children – a UK children’s charity created to help vulnerable children & young people and their families in the UK.

Aside from that, I freelance for property development agencies in London. Work on private commissions for domestic clients and sell products on my online store.

To keep up to date with my output and to see my past projects, follow my Instagram at @tobymelvillebrown.

 

There is a limited edition run of 10 Dungeness zines. They can be purchased here.

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