Archival photographs form the basis of my paintings in which I am examining notions of the relentless passing of time, transient lives and fleeting memories. Each photograph represents a tiny piece of the jigsaw in someone's personal narrative, and as many of the prints and negatives are fading or damaged, this fragmentary visual evidence is itself ephemeral. I use the photographs as catalysts for extending and re-inventing these narratives in my paintings.

Central to my painting practice is the materiality of the oil paint itself. I paint with oils because of their rich and lustrous quality, using a variety of textures and layers of colour, varying between opaque marks and transparent or translucent glazes.

While the paintings are essentially figurative, I aim to produce sensuous abstraction in the detail, choosing when to control the behaviour of the medium and when to allow gravity to exert its force, producing drips and runs. I view the process of painting from these photographic images, as almost a conversation between myself and a person long gone or a child now grown old, trapped as a ghost in the layer of silver emulsion.


Melissa Wraxall grew up in Sydney, Australia, and attended Meriden School for Girls in Strathfield. She went on to do a Bachelor of Art Education at the City Art Institute in Paddington, (now called the College of Fine Art, NSW University) from 1982 to 1985.

She taught Art at Wenona School, Sydney, from 1987 to 1996, including a year out as an exchange teacher in Art and Design at Dollar Academy in Scotland, in the 94/95 academic year.

Melissa has been living in the UK since 1996, working as a freelance schools lecturer for the National Gallery, London, from 1997 - 1999, and she has been bringing up two children since 1998.

In 2013, Melissa graduated with a Master of Fine Arts Degree at Bath School of Art and Design, Bath Spa University, and she is now establishing her career as a fine artist.