Featured Artist – Meredith Macleod

We present our featured artists to give you an insight into how they work and what drives them!

Meredith Macleod

Meredith Macleod is a Tasmanian born artist now residing in Brisbane. Meredith specialises in drawing, intaglio etching and artist books. Meredith has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Griffith University (2013) and on her graduation was awarded The Griffith University Medal for the highest achieving student in the Bachelor Degree and The Trevor Lyons Award for Print Media.

Check out Meredith’s solo online exhibition!

Meredith Macleod – 2024

Until the end of June

How would you describe your art in five words?
Figurative, reflective, existential, eclectic, (towards) dark

Meredith Macleod - Ashes of Whiskey

Ashes of Whiskey iii: (2018)
Graphite, watercolour and ink on paper 86.5 x 183cm
Finalist: Lyn McCrea Memorial Drawing Prize – Noosa Regional Gallery 2018

What’s exciting you and/or inspiring you about your work at present?
A very large part of my practice consists of copper plate intaglio etching and aquatinting. For a number of years I worked extremely hard to master the art/control of aquatinting. Aquatinting can be an extremely challenging and frustrating process…a process with which I now have a very sound relationship. It is an absolute joy to work with this process on my plates.
Currently I am working on a new series of plates through which I am considering the intellectual and technical nuances of the work of Francisco Goya y Lucientes. Goya is one of the artists who has been a continual source of inspiration and I am further contemplating his social commentary within a contemporary narrative. My practice further considers my narrative through experimental imagery with monotypes, collagraphs and artist books. Drawing, including my sketchbook work, will continue to be a great source of creative inspiration.

The complete series was a finalist in the Burnie Print Prize 2023
15 framed copper plate intaglio etching and aquatint
on Hahnemuhle paper: 300 gsm

In an alternate universe where you couldn’t be an artist, what would you be doing, and why?
I really cannot imagine a life without visual art and the amazing opportunities I have had to mentor young people in visual arts as well as have my own practice.
In saying that (not that I play a guitar) a bassist in a Blues/Rock and Roll band would be a great alternative. You have probably guessed it… I am a bit of a tragic for Blues and Rock and Roll.

My Heart Belongs to Lake Gkula by Meredith Macleod. Lake Gkula at Woodford (Folk Festival site) is a very special place for me and I can see myself eternally travelling the landscape. The shadow is a representation of my spiritual form.

My Heart Belongs to Lake Gkula
Watercolour, gouache and ink on YUPO
2023

Do you dream? Do dreams influence your art in any way?
Dreaming is an interesting concept for me. I do not have the vivid ‘out there’ dreams that a lot of other artists I know have. However, in saying that, I am constantly aware of being in a “dream like” state when I am sleeping in which I am solving problems in my work and coming up with new ideas. Most of the time I am not sure if I am awake or asleep…whatever it is, it works very well for me. I am also able to daydream if need be to reflect or solve problems in my art.

Midnight in Iso (i) (black cover) (unique state) 2020
Artists Book
Graphite, water colour, gouache & ink on mixed paper 22.5 x 20 cm when closed.

2 books acquired by the State Library of Victoria for their permanent collection – 2021
This series of self portraits is a reflection of my thoughts and mood as I contemplated lockdown in isolation during COVID. Drawn at midnight, as reflected in the limited and distorted light of my studio window, these self portraits are not photographic representations but rather reflections, fragments of shadows and distortions as seen through the darkness and silence of the night. I became obsessively fascinated as I considered the curious incursions into my mind of an event beyond our comprehension.

Midnight in Iso (ii) (red cover) (unique state) 2020

Drawings from Midnight in Iso (ii) (red cover)

How does your background influence your art, and can you give a specific example in one of your works?
I have always been interested in matters relating to the human condition, both psychological and philosophical. The darker side of human nature is something I contemplate often…why do people as a collective as well as individually do what they do? I studied psychology and other social sciences at university (Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Social Work) and have always been a curious observer of human nature.
When I was in Pre SchooI I can remember a fascination with how people perceived the human condition…it got me into a bit of trouble though. I fronted up to show and tell with my treasured art book and proceeded to share with the class my favourite painting – Saturn Devouring his Son by Goya. Needless to say I ended up in a fair bit of trouble…banned from doing show and tell for most of the year with my book confiscated. I never really understood why. This painting for me opened up a whole new world relating to the complexities of mythology and the potential darkness of the complexity of relationships.

Shadowed by the Theatre of Life by Meredith Macleod is made up of 15 framed etchings each 38.5 (h) x 48 (w) cm. This leads to the total artwork dimensions being 121.5 (h) x 247 (w) cm.

Shadowed by the Theatre of Life
15 framed copper plate intaglio etching and aquatint
on Hahnemuhle paper: 300 gsm
2023

What is your typical daily schedule?
Up at 4:15 am and then a two km swim in an outdoor pool at my local gym – 6 days a week all year (a bit cool in the middle of winter!!) This is a great time for creative reflection. Swimming is usually followed by a couple of long blacks, walking my dog Kollwitz (named after another favourite artist, Kathe Kollwitz) and then studio time. This varies each day…from straight into works already underway or drawing and/or literary research for ideas. Monday nights almost without fail will find me attending a life drawing session…something I have been doing for almost as long as I can remember. Life Drawing is one of the backbones of my practice. I also have a strong sketchbook practice which I add to most days…observations from coffee shops, music festivals, public transport and football (a bit of a tragic AFL Lions supporter).
Every now and then I try to clean up my creative mess in the studio and most days there is also some computer time for documentation of work and entering competitions, exhibitions. I retired from being the Artist in Residence at a local school (where I had been for nearly 20 years) at the end of 2023… this will allow more studio time. On Saturdays I mentor and teach approximately 20 students aged between 9 and 80+ and encourage them on their personal creative journey.

Love Street Studio: 2024

Sketchbook from Out and About: 2024: An ongoing series of sketchbooks capturing moments in coffee shops, music festivals and other public places.
Drawing pens, watercolour and watercolour ink

Sketchbook studies: 2023/2024 from music festivals, AFL football and public transport
Graphite, watercolour and watercolour pencils

When did you realise that you are an artist?
My parents always said I was born with a pencil in my hand. I do remember when I was in kindergarten that we did painting before being made to have a sleep – horror of horrors I didn’t need to waste time sleeping. Anyway we had these beautiful big pots of paints, fat brushes and paper taped to the walls with towels underneath to catch the drips. I remember that being the best part of my day and I would paint till I got into trouble (most days as it was). I would get two brushes and drip the paint on the paper…joy oh joy when the colours blended together and I could watch two colours mix to make beautiful new colours. I also loved the magical mystique of black.
I don’t think there was ever a conscious decision …it was just what I did.

Meredith Macleod - Callan

Callan: 2019
Watercolour, gouache and graphite on Fabriano paper: 640gsm 75 x 73cm

Do you believe that art can change the world? If your art could change one thing, what would it be?
Art alone cannot change the world…too much diversity between cultures, ideas, sensibilities, religions and philosophies. Art – in all forms: visual art, music, literature, film, drama, performance and photography – I believe has the potential to change the way we see the world and create new perspectives, philosophies, ideals, values and narratives. Art can evoke emotion, it can bring like minded people together and it can facilitate great platforms to facilitate discussion and bring awareness to social issues.
Art can, however, provide a voice in the endless search for truth.
Art history is an infinite journey of artists finding and expressing their voice and it is difficult to choose one artist or art direction over another. I must however acknowledge the work of the great female performance artists such as Vali Export (Action Pants: Genital Panic: 1969), Hannah Wilke (Intra Venus: 1992) and Carolee Schneemann (Interior Scroll: 1975) who challenged the solid bastions of patriarchy in order to set the wheels of a feminist narrative in art in motion. Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party (1979) must not be overlooked in this narrative and neither must Henrik Ibsen’s definitive play A Doll’s House (1879).
Art can take us back in time and provide reflection within a historical context. Consider the heart breaking work of Kathe Kollwitz as she examines war, poverty and death. Pablo Picasso (Guernica: 1937) and Otto Dix also add to the terrible portrayal of war. Then we have Edvard Munch (The Scream: 1893) with his portrayal of human angst reflected likewise in the work of the Australian artist Joy Hester. Other artists springing to mind include George Baldessin, Anselm Kiefer and William Kentridge with their endless search and questioning of issues relating to the human condition…with perhaps one of the greatest social commentators of all time being Goya.
Art is fundamental to creating a sense of self (ask David Bowie) and it is absolutely imperative that at all times we encourage creativity and the freedom of thinking that develops curiosity and dreaming and a resounding voice in the endless search for truth.
It is my aim to contribute to this universal journey through art…however small.

Dancing with my Shadow ii: 2023
Intaglio etching and aquatint on Hahnemuhle 300 gsm paper, Image 30 x 23.5cm

Can you share a time when a mistake or accident in your process led to an unexpected breakthrough or result?
Mistakes are wonderful…that is how we learn. My whole practice has developed from the mistakes I have made and will continue to make. For a few years I struggled to master the challenges of aquatinting…mistake after mistake combined with a determination to succeed and a curious mind…I can now confidently say I have the upper hand. There are always challenges in the studio and solving these are part of the magic of creativity.

The Red Ribbon is a reflective consideration of the loss of identity as one ages.

The Red Ribbon
Intaglio etching and aquatint 
2023

How do you balance creating art for yourself versus art for your audience or clients?
I decided a very long time ago to be in control of my own creativity. For many years I tried to create what I thought others would like. This was detrimental to my creativity and severely clipped the potential of my curiosity. My subject matter does not always sit comfortably with the public…I cannot change the way I think. I have always supported my practice by mentoring and sharing my passion and knowledge through artist in residency programs, private workshops and numerous other community arts projects.

Meredith Macleod- the insane thing

The insane thing: 2019
Watercolour, gouache and graphite on Fabriano paper (640 gsm), 66.8 x 62.3cm

The insane thing references Henrik Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House (1879). This work considers frequently ignored issues relating to the struggle between intellect and emotion that can occur within the family home. The home is not always a refuge. As emphasised by film director and visual artist David Lynch, more often than not the home is a closed psychological setting coded with the disturbing suspicion that things are – or already have gone – horribly wrong. Ashes of Whiskey explores the interplay of empty signifiers that can replace reality with a series of egocentric games, patriarchal dominance and the perversion of basic reality. This work questions the utopian dream of an existence in freedom and truth that takes us to a complex place of loss and alienation. The boundaries of home and ego are compromised and infractions enter the stability of the home festering to become incursions into the mind.

What exciting projects, exhibitions, or events do you have lined up in the near future?
I am a member of Firestation Print Studio in Melbourne and I participate annually in many of their exhibitions and competitions. At present I am a participant in their postcard exchange – Postcards North and South (printmaking) – with Press North Printmakers (Townsville) and The Printmaking Girls (South Africa). I also have an artist book entered in Firestation’s 2024 Artist Book Prize and exhibition.
I am a founding member of Impress Printmakers in Brisbane and will be exhibiting in their annual Artist Book Exhibition (Never judge a book by its cover) ….. There will be further opportunities as the year progresses to exhibit in other exhibitions with Impress and Firestation.
At the moment my focus is on creating a new body of work that will explore my printmaking, artist books and drawing ideas. I have three books underway at present that feature my drawings from life. I am also in the early stages of a new project in which I am exploring the life of Sylvia Plath. This involves the making of artist books and experimenting with drawing, transfer of images and collographs/monoprints.

Narrative of a Doll: 2024
Artist Book: tin, etching plate, leather, ribbon, etchings dress patterns and burnt book pages, 10.5 x 11 x 8 cm

Narrative of a Doll references Nora the heroine in Henrik Ibsen’s play (1879) A Doll’s House and her struggles to achieve gender equality. Treated by her husband as no more than a doll or a songbird, Nora reshapes her future in the most dramatic way possible.

What are you reading or listening to at present … does it inspire your work?
My best work happens when I am playing my music and delving into books. I am an avid reader and I usually have several books on the go at once. I often read books multiple times and many of my favourites lie around the studio as I frequently dip into them. I have a very informative library of books about artists and musicians and I frequently delve into their lives and biographies. At present I am examining in depth the life and work of Goya – A Portrait of an Artist by Janis. A Tomlinson. I have recently acquired William Kentridge Domestic Scenes by Warren Siebrits and I have a number of books on Kathe Kollwitz and Anselm Kiefer always on hand.
For many years my practice has been influenced by Henrik Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House…there is always a copy or two not far out of range. Also open on my desk is Henrik Ibsen The Man and The Mask by Ivo De Figuerredo and Torril Moi’s book: Henrik Ibsen and the Birth of Modernism. Other books in my studio at present are works by Kafka and Nietzsche and anything relating to Sylvia Plath…her life and poetry.
I cannot imagine my life without music …David Bowie, Patti Smith, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Mott The Hoople, Eric Clapton, John Lennon and Jackson Browne to name a few. I am also a huge fan of our brilliant Aussie talent and I am forever adding to my much loved vinyl collection. I never create in silence.

Self Portraits at Midnight i: contemplation of the inner reflective realm: 2020 – 2022
Watercolour, gouache and ink on old book pages, 135 x 105 cm

This series of self portraits is a reflection of my thoughts and mood as I contemplated lockdown in isolation during COVID. Drawn at midnight, as reflected in the limited and distorted light of my studio window, these self portraits are not photographic representations but rather reflections, fragments of shadows and distortions as seen through the darkness and silence of the night. I became obsessively fascinated as I considered the curious incursions into my mind of an event beyond our comprehension. These images were created whilst working on my artists books: Midnight in Iso.

Self Portrait from the series Midnight in Iso: 2020 a time of self reflection and curiosity with shadows of the night
Medium: graphite, ink, watercolour and gouache on YUPO (transparent), 42 x 29.5 cm

If you could send a message to your younger artist self, what would it be?
Be curious, curious and more curious. Believe in your chosen direction and set your goals high and work very very hard. Constantly nourish your mind with all things creative. Take full responsibility for your journey and its outcomes…nobody knows you and your creativity like you do. Share your life with a beautiful dog.

Zombie Drawings: 2018
A series of drawings inspired by a life drawing session multiple models) with Dr Bill Platz held at the Woodford Folk Festival 2018
Ink, graphite, gouache and watercolour on opaque YUPO, 56 (h) x 38 (w) cm

What vision do you have for our Plexus Gallery, and how do you see your role in it?
I have been one of the Plexus Gallery artists since the beginning and have been involved in a number of pop up and on line exhibitions. I highly respect the work that Billy does in this area… it helps immensely that Billy has his own practice and I value his need to find a workable solution to meet the needs of his artists and his own journey as an artist. I agree that we need to consider an expanding digital footprint on multiple social platforms to connect to wider audiences. I believe that Billy’s new initiative – the monthly Feature Artist – is extremely important in setting a new direction for Plexus Gallery.
I believe this will perpetuate an important platform for creative vision and discussion for the artists and patrons involved. I look forward to being part of this journey.

Love Street Studio: May 2024: New work underway: pages for a book contemplating the life of Sylvia Plath.
Drawing, transfer images and collagraphs/monoprints

Therefore I Choose iv by Meredith Macleod … in search of the existential - a philosophical journey of the self towards the creation of purpose in life.

Check out Meredith’s solo online exhibition!
Until the end of June

Meredith Macleod 2024

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