September 05, 2016
INTERVIEW | MEG COWELL
“My relationship with photography surfaced within the sloshing chemical trays of the Hobart College darkrooms,” says Meg Cowell. “In the gloom amongst the dripping taps, I relished, what felt to me like, the almost supernatural processes of chemical dips and rinses that created and sealed my camera’s vision. I was enthralled by the control that was possible at the various stages of decision‐making that managed exposure, cropping and tone. I loved how these choices – what to reveal and what to conceal – could be used to veil reality and create meaning.”
After graduating from the University of Tasmania with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and the gaining a Postgraduate Diploma of Visual Art and Design at the University of South Australia, Meg gained representation in a relatively short period of time. In 2013 she was given a contract with Flinders Lane Gallery after entering one of its emerging art prizes. And the same year Meg was shortlisted for the Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Award in Queensland, which lead to representation with Dickerson Gallery.
Deeper Water is showing at Flinders Lane Gallery from 20 September to 8 October.
Which five words best describe you? Loyal, funny, sensitive, courageous, open.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? In 2012 I was I was fortunate enough to be paired with photo-artist Deborah Paauwe in a mentorship program through the University of South Australia. Deborah’s work has been a huge influence for me, and much of my subject matter and compositional phrasing is borrowed from her - Deborah captures girls and young women in a very constructed way, at play within their own private worlds of fantasy. Deborah had total confidence in my work. It was just a very clear, calm understanding - I was going to make it. She even got me my first commercial exhibition with A.P Bond Gallery in Adelaide in 2012. My career has been on the rise since then.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Look for people who are where you want to be career-wise and go about logically unpacking how they got where they are and why.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Being invited to join Flinders Lane Gallery in 2013.
What’s been your best decision? Entering lots of art prizes when I was starting out.
Who inspires you? Tasmanian photographer Anne MacDonald. Anne uses photography to create metaphors for life and death; funeral flowers and wedding cakes in various stages of decay. Anne belongs to a sub-category of Australian contemporary art termed Tasmanian Gothic. The concept being that something to do with Tasmania’s climate, isolation and convict history produces artists with an inclination to the sinister. I completed my undergrad studies with Anne and I feel very much connected to the genre.
What are you passionate about? I’m passionate about my artwork and sourcing garments for new works. When finding garments for my work I look for pieces that communicate the kind of mood, feeling or emotion that I want to express. I have found that wedding dresses are particularly potent garments to work with. They speak of hope, expectation, and of course a symbolic transformation.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Tim Walker.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? Everest Base Camp.
What are you reading? The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton. Just Kids by Patti Smith. The Dreamcatcher by Stephen King.
images courtesy of meg cowell and flinders lane gallery