Sunflower Melatonin is a fictional character and growing body of research around the Sunflower, sun, skin and sleep that began during a residency with Launchpad in Charante, France in autumn 2019. 

I had been thinking a lot about the celestial presence of the sunflower, their circadian rhythm, twisting and rotating towards the direction of the light. The farmers were mowing down the fields at the end of the harvest, leaving a battlefield of stumps behind them. It was this clash between their beauty and sinister presence of passing and wanting to lend them some kind of an after life. I returned to the studio from the fields with some sunflowers, at night I had this image of them wondering around looking for their group in the field. I started to play out this story of the sunflowers as a group of insomniacs searching for the sun.

I became a knd of guardian of them. The seeds continued to spill out over the floor and I began picking up them up and throwing them on to paper, fixing their movement into a pigment dust. Once the dust dried, the seeds would slowly drop away. I began making a mask that I would wear on night walks around the countryside, I would lay sunflower stems onto photographic paper and expose them in the moonlight. This particualar work would later evolve into a large scale text work titled Rage, rage against the dying of the light, that strangely concluded in the following summer during the lockdown and global pandemic. I have started to see the sunflower heads collapsing under the weight of the seeds like a person trying to hold on, the brittle shapes of the stems turning like postures of contorted bodies.

© William Mackrell