In a series of paintings, female police officers from British television shows such as Happy Valley and The Bill are positioned in an array of apocalyptic settings: freezing, burning, and backdropped by flooding. The accompanying text chronicles an acute feeling of being watched, what it feels like to watch whoever is watching you, or, as Mellor writes, how it feels to be kettled in your own flat, by your own paintings.
Fragmented accounts map the protagonist’s shifting relationship to crime, gender, class and sexuality from multiple perspectives: as a child in Gamesley in the ‘70s, a lesbian performer in sex clubs in the mid ‘90s, an artist with and without gallery representation, and as a lecturer within an academic institution. These changes of position mix the language of a rally cry with an acerbic satire of the authorial voice and everyone they encounter.
Published by Montez Press, Sirens is the first novel by Dawn Mellor and includes the complete set of the Sirens paintings.
‘It’s hard to write about the deftness, humour and levels of meaning that take place across image and text in Sirens. The writing picks up on something that I’ve always found so compelling about Mellor’s painting: the ability to materialise a feeling, to present in object form what reads like an emotion, and more generally; the inability to make comfortable art.’
- Dr Catherine Grant, Writer and Academic
‘Sirens is dizzying in its relentless irony, and narrative perspectives are satirised as they are invented. Even the novel’s latent paranoia, stitching together its micro-texts, is sent up. Above all, Mellor’s work relishes the strange. They inhabit the contradictions of identity politics and the scandal of tabloid sensationalism. Mellor knows that they are being watched.’
—Tank Magazine 2020
‘In Sirens, the narrator resists reductive narratives about vulnerability with a powerful voice and something like... velocity, swimming upstream and violently wriggling out of various political fishing nets.’
— Rosanna McLaughlin, Writer and Critic
Dawn Mellor (b.1970) is an artist based in London, who has been exhibiting internationally since the 1990s. Solo exhibitions and special projects include Sixty Years at Tate Britain; London, Vile Affections at Studio Voltaire; London, Dawn Mellor at The Migros Museum; Zurich, Sirens at Team Gallery; New York, Madame X and The Party Tricks at Victoria Miro; London, Michael Jackson On The Wall at The National Portrait Gallery; London (touring), What Happened to Helen? Focal Point Gallery; Southend and Malerei, Böse at Kunstverein; Hamburg.
Format: 210 × 297 mm
Binding: hard cover
Price: £ 29.00