John Melvin exhibition & lecture

Thursday 10 April 2003

The University of St Andrews will host an exhibition of the work of the architect John Melvin, beginning next week (15th April to 15th May 2003).

The exhibition, to be held at the University Library, is entitled ‘Etruscan Places.’

John Melvin trained at the Architectural Association and at the Department of Town Planning, University College London. His firm, John Melvin Architects and Town Planners, has won many awards for its work, including a Royal Fine Arts Commission’s Building of the Year Award. He was Sargant Fellow at the British School at Rome in 1996. In 1997 a retrospective exhibition of his paintings, Remembering Rome, was held at the Prince of Wales Institute of Architecture. Drawings for Eton Observed were exhibited at the Brewhouse Gallery in 2002.

The ‘Etruscan Places’ exhibition has been displayed at the British School at Rome and the Architectural Association.

In an introduction to the catalogue for the exhibition at the Architectural Association, Andreas Papadakis wrote:

‘As an architect, John Melvin has always shown a particular concern with those timeless elements of architecture such as the entrance, the arch and the trabeated opening. In these paintings he continues his exploration of those elemental forms as they struggle and triumph over the forces of gravity. All these paintings are of landscapes. Elvin draws our attention to a chthonic pre-classical world where the physical correspondence between the landscape and building is inseparable, a quality which was a little later to inform the building of classical Rome.

Although these paintings are done with an architect’s eye, they are nevertheless properly concerned with all the material and physical stuff of painting such as colour, translucency and texture. They also reveal another preoccupation: that of the corporeal and anthropomorphic, which at times amounts to the erotic. This eroticism, although never explicit, seems ever present. Could this be a key to explaining our fascination with the Etruscans?’

The exhibition is accompanied by a special lecture which will be given in Lower College Hall at 5.15 pm on Monday 21st April, entitled ‘Etruscans and their Place in Western Architecture.’ The lecture will be delivered by John Melvin and Dr. Vedia Izzet, Fellow, Tutor and Director of Studies at Christ’s College Cambridge. Dr. Izzet is a noted scholar of Etruscan architecture, whose doctoral dissertation was entitled ‘Declarations of difference: boundaries and the transformation of archaic Etruscan society’, and she has published numerous articles, including ‘Tuscan Order’ in E. Bispham, C. J. Smith (eds) Religion in Archaic and Republican Rome and Italy.

All are welcome to attend this illustrated lecture.


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