Metallurgy, Demonology and Materiality: Melanie Jackson and Angus Cameron

Cerro Rico (The Rich Mountain); Courtesy Melanie Jackson 2016
El Tio (The Uncle); Courtesy Melanie Jackson 2016

Artist Melanie Jackson and writer Angus Cameron discuss the demons that have populated the shafts and galleries of mines around the world through history, and the contemporary example of El Tío (The Uncle), believed in Potosi, Bolivia, to be the Lord of the underworld.

There are many statues of this devil-like spirit in the silver mines of Cerro Rico, to whom miners bring offerings such as cigarettes, coca leaves, and alcohol. El Tío is portrayed in recent prints by Jackson and, in a text written to accompany the prints, Cameron draws parallels with the underground and demonic aspects of money and banking, noting that, just as Tío has been an entirely rational and supernatural response to the terrors of the mines at Potosi, so the newly conjured devils of post-modern finance make completely anti-rational sense. 
Melanie Jackson inhabits different tropes of art making to interrogate possibilities of representation against the engaged practices of the world. She is interested in ways in which thought and affect is conducted through the material, and much of her work has explored this against the context of work, production and the flow of international capital. Melanie is a lecturer at Slade School of Fine Art, her solo exhibitions include The Urpflanze (Part 1), The Drawing Room, London (2010), Road Angel, Arnolfini, Bristol (2007), Made In China, Matt’s Gallery, London (2005). She won the Jerwood Drawing Prize in 2007. In 2013, Melanie was appointed Artist in Residence at University of Bristol.
Angus Cameron is a writer and Associate Professor in Spatial Organisation at the University of Leicester. His primary research interests address the broad themes of spatiality, representation and performance. He has a particular focus on the construction of 'xenospaces' - fictional but functional spaces of exteriority, ambiguity and indeterminacy.  Empirically this embraces topics of money, offshore finance, boundaries, taxation, cartography, discourses of inclusion/exclusion/exception and visual semiotics. Most recently he has been exploring conceptual relationships between the quasi-mythical figures trickster, devil and fool and the ambiguous ‘realities’ of money.