Name: ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM
Mission: TO CREATE ART WHICH HITS YOU LIKE A PUNCH IN THE FACE
During my teenage years growing up in Cheltenham I met a lot of interesting people, usually whilst sitting in the park drinking cider! This was how I met Megan and we have known each other now for about 7 years.
Megan started her A levels “but I left because I found it more strict than school. I just wanted to take art and not have to do other subjects.” She applied to Gloscat college and got one of the last places on the course. “I dropped out though after a few months as partying took priority. The only thing I ever wanted to be was an artist, but it had been drilled into me that that wasn’t realistic and it would never come to anything.”
Everyone who came round to see Megan was surprised she could paint. “It wasn’t something I showed people. Even though few saw me as an artist, that’s how I viewed myself and it’s always been such a big part of who I am. I found it strange that it had been over looked by anyone, something that had always been present but never seen. It was time to address the elephant in the room.” Age 19 Megan moved into her own place. “I was allowed one wall to paint on as long as I repainted it white when I moved out. I painted an elephant covering half the wall. I like to take frequently used expressions into something visual. It was the first thing I had been happy with in ages.”
Encouraged by the positive feedback she had received Megan applied for an Art Foundation degree. “It was strenuous to say the least. The course itself was amazing and the tutors encouraged us to find our own style. It was the first time I hadn’t felt restricted and I loved the course, I just felt so out of place. All the students seemed so different to the people I had surrounded myself with and I realised the way I had been living was far from the ‘norm’. Reality hit me and it hit hard, I had to cut a lot of people out and discover who my true friends were. I had to face my demons, and face up to all the crap I had been blocking out for years.”
Whilst she was doing the course she had a lot to deal with. “I was in debt, had fallen in love and got my heart broken, and I met my father for the first time. It was all happening at once and I felt like my head was going to explode. I was struggling to eat, sleep or turn up to college. I was still drawing a lot at home and started making sculptures out of rubbish and what ever scraps and interesting objects I found. Not being able to afford art equipment I just used whatever I could find. My style had changed and developed a lot, it became extremely expressive and it wasn’t about attempting to create anything beautiful, I was exorcising the ugly thoughts inside my head.”
She was almost ready to give up on college, but the last time she saw her Nan “she told me how proud she was of me for giving it another go and made me promise I’d see it through to the end. It was the first time I had dealt with death, but no matter how hard I found it I wasn’t going to break my promise.” My attendance improved, I would regularly stay for hours after last period until the caretakers wanted to lock up. I started the course with the intention of getting my head back into my passion and learning as much as I could to further myself as an artist, and I definitely accomplished that. I honestly can’t believe what my life would be like now if I hadn’t stuck with it, it’s been the first step towards a more positive way of thinking and behaving.”
A quote from Francis Bacon stuck with me, “I feel ever so strongly that an artist must be nourished by his passions and his despairs. These things alter an artist whether for the good or the better or the worse. It must alter him. The feelings of desperation and unhappiness are more useful to an artist than the feeling of contentment, because desperation and unhappiness stretch your whole sensibility.” I have been at my most creative when I’ve been feeling my worst, coming out the other side allowed me to take all that raw emotion and refine it.
Taking inspiration from artists such as Edvard Munch, Giger, Monet and Lucien Freud she likes “to use a lot of contrast of the attractive and unattractive, light and dark, love and pain. You can’t have one without the other and struggling makes you stronger.”
Megan sees art as a form of stress relief and is as vital to her as eating or sleeping. “When I get in the zone it becomes a meditation. I’m an over-thinker by nature, and painting allows me to escape myself and gather my thoughts in a constructive way. It’s the biggest rush when I manage to stop ‘trying’ to create and my sub-conscience takes over putting the pieces together and everything happens organically. This process makes my work very surreal but I still have a clear message of what I want to say and the feelings I want to display. I enjoy watching others look at my work and finding out how they interrupt it. It doesn’t matter whether they see what I see. When someone discovers their own meaning it doesn’t make it wrong, and if I touch someone else with a painting, and it stirs up strong emotions, it’s more important that it means something that’s real to them.”
It gives me great pleasure to say that Megan will be taking part in The Spiralling Exhibition next month so if you want to see some of her work come to The Island, Bristol on the 19th October at 6:00pm. For more details on the event please click here.