Melbourne Artist Megan Weston
By Dani Wales
Megan Weston is a self-taught Barwon Heads artist renowned for her large-scale abstract works. With an intuitive approach to colour and composition, Megan creates richly layered works on canvas, inspired in part by aerial photography.
Megan has developed somewhat of a cult following in recent years thanks in part to her continued inclusion on Channel Nine’s The Block. As brilliant as she is bubbly I’m always interested in knowing more about Megan work’s, including where she draws her inspiration and which other creatives she loves at the moment.
Can you share a bit about your background?
With a love of colour, pattern and texture, I was initially attracted to fashion and went into retail management. This fueled a passion for interiors and I worked at a local interior store, which made me much more aware of scale and market. I was always painting though, and, eventually, with the support of my partner, I was able to move to painting full time.
Do you remember your first interaction with art? When did you decide you wanted to become an artist?
My aunty was an artist and would sit and draw with me for hours when I was just a little kid. I still have the drawings we did together even though she has passed on now. Drawing, painting and creating have always been a part of my life and are as natural to me as talking. I never mapped out a strategic plan to become an artist; I just spent my time doing what I loved. And because I did what I loved, I was never held captive to the demands or expectations of others. This gave me an enormous sense of freedom, which I have learnt is a really important part of the creative process.
How would you describe your work?
It’s always hard to talk about your own work because it’s so much a part of you, like your footprints in the sand. I’ve heard it described as organised chaos! I think it’s optimistic, it’s on a grand scale but it’s also vulnerable. It’s free and adventurous.
I read that your work is inspired mostly by aerial photography… Can you elaborate on that?
Aerial photography presents us with unfamiliar images of familiar spaces. Suddenly we see our own locations from a different perspective, which can be very enlightening but also a bit estranging. At the same time, it shows a common ground between different spaces, so that places we are unfamiliar with can be seen to share likenesses with places we are familiar with. Once you add the colour and texture of different landscapes into this imaginative mix, the possibilities are endless. It literally helps me to understand the world in new ways.
Can you give us a little insight into your process? What materials do you use? Is each work pre-planned or created very intuitively? Do you work on multiple pieces at one time?
Process is happening all the time, there’s no real beginning or end point. My love for the visual medium means that I’m always gathering materials that influence and inspire me, such as aerial photography, but it might also be an image I snap on my phone or something from a magazine. Then there’s a rough idea of how a painting might take shape, such as working from a visual referent, the size and shape of the canvas and the colours. But I’m also a big believer in unconscious processes, in showing up to do to the work and seeing what happens – once you’ve put in all the necessary preparations of course. I use a variety of mixed media, acrylics, oils, watercolours, inks and resin. I can work on multiple pieces at once, but I prefer the intensity of one on one.
What gets your creative juices flowing?
I think as an artist you are always triggering the senses in different ways. Music is a great inspiration for me, you might think of sonic worlds operating analogously aerial landscapes for their capacity to transport you to a different time and place. I love the challenge of the new as well – working with new palettes always gets the heart pumping. And the new colours and smells of seasonal movement are important to me. In my latest show, Garden State, now at Fenton & Fenton, I respond to all the magic that springtime in Victoria brings.
What are your thoughts on the power of art in interior design and what people should look out for when choosing artwork?
An artwork can make or break a room, so you want art and design to cooperate! When you’re planning a room, you’re looking to harmonise a number of different features or functions. Often it’s not about slavish commitment to one style but enabling different dialogues to emerge without succumbing to clutter. Art will provide the signature pieces of a room. You want to consider the purpose of the room and the mood you want to create – colour, texture, movement, tone and light are all important factors. If the artwork has enough substance it will somehow give strength to other objects. Great art always has its own form of radiance.
Has the ever-evolving art industry changed your practice?
If you’re attune to your environment and the context in which you live, you can’t help but be affected by changes as you simultaneously grow and develop as an individual. But it’s most important to stay connected and true to yourself otherwise you risk becoming adrift in a sea of fads and illusions. People have drawn my attention to a number of copycat renditions of my style that have emerged over the last couple of years. As someone who has always chartered my own path, I don’t understand how people could be comfortable taking money for work, which is second-rate and derivative – it seems so fraudulent. So there’s a balance, I think, between adapting to life and maintaining your integrity as an artist.
Which other designers, artists or creative people are you loving at the moment?
There’s some incredible ceramics around at the moment! Suite Studio One has an amazing range, and Amanda Dziedzic’s glass works are sublime. Richard Claremont’s oil paintings are simply divine – they literally took my breath away. And Karen Knorr’s photography is also extraordinary.
What does a typical day in your studio look like?
It starts with music – even before coffee. I paint in the morning, after which I may have client meetings or deliveries to attend to. In the afternoon I try to get to the computer, but every day is up for grabs! When I’m painting, I get lost in time and the hours just drop away.
What is your proudest career achievement to date?
It’s been such an honour to have been well received in the broader community and I love having happy clients. Jen Hawkins, Megan Gale and Darren Palmer have been great supporters. It’s always a thrill to make the front cover of a publication and September’s edition of Inside Out is no exception.
What would be your dream creative project?
I’m always fascinated by how interiors become an extension of the creative project. One of my current obsessions is with retro hotels and I would love to renovate and redecorate one in my own aesthetic.
What are you looking forward to?
I have a new project in the wings, which is incredibly exciting but I’m not allowed to talk about it yet!
When you’re not in your studio, where would we typically find you?
Hanging out with the family, indulging in some highly necessary consumerism or catching up with friends.
And most importantly, how can we get our hands on your works?
The one and only Fenton & Fenton.
Images by Fenton & Fenton • Styling by Ruth Welsby • Photography by Mike Baker.
First published on domain.com.au.