Meg Gallagher’s artistic background is in the world of fashion working for brands such as Camilla and Marc, Insight, and Ksubi.
When visiting denim factories for work, she discovered the amount of denim offcuts going to waste, so she asked to take some home. Little did Meg know, this would inspire the beginning of her fine art practice.
‘I started to use denim instead of a traditional canvas… It was clear to me that this was absolutely going to be my material of choice,’ she says. ‘I translated everything I knew about denim, textiles and colour into creating art.’
To this day, Meg creates her paintings on denim offcuts. ‘I just use whatever the factory has laying around in their “waste,” she says. ‘This means I can’t order the exact colours that I want, but that’s the joy of it. I’ll get a beautiful rich blue that washes to green shades one day and the next offcut will be an ecru denim. This process keeps me on my toes, and I love it.’
Her artistic process starts with a clean, blank denim offcut that is manipulated (dyed, bleached and washed) to create organic textures. The denim is then stretched and stapled onto huge plywood panels that Meg slathers with thick layers of acrylic. ‘I continue to soak the paintings in washed out dyes or wipe on powdered pigments with a cotton cloth,’ Meg says. ‘It’s a continuous loop of controlling the chaos.’ Each work takes anywhere from three weeks to three months to finish.
Meg’s new show No Place Like Home opens today at Totem Road Gallery in Paddington, Sydney. The exhibition name refers to Ōtepoti/Dunedin where the artist grew up and recently returned to after years living in Australia. ‘I feel the most inspired here… Growing up in New Zealand meant my love for nature was inherent, so coming home after years living abroad and being near these landscapes that I relate to so much just felt right to my soul.’
No Place Like Home comprises eight original artworks inspired by the feeling of nature. Meg explains, ‘Although I love using the curving lines and intense textures of landscapes, I never paint [literal] blue skies and green grass. I’m always trying to paint the mood that nature gives off, not a mirror image of it.’
Works capture the colours and textures surrounding Ōtepoti/Dunedin—its coastlines, rolling hills, and mountain ridges. ‘It is less about one particular place and more of an exploration of what home means within. Of course, there are references to specific places, but it’s a collective sentiment—to find grounding and clarity in nature.’
No Place Like Home
Opening Thursday 23 February, 6-8pm
Totem Road Gallery
3/188 Oxford St, Paddington, NSW