Words by Kate Iselin
Photography sourced by Google
In 2013, artist and designer Meg Minkley flew to Mexico for a holiday. Shortly into her adventure abroad, she was raped, and shortly after that she returned to her hometown of Sydney, shaken and seeking support. When she reached out and found that she couldn’t get the help she wanted, she begun her own form of therapy – art. Minkley began drawing a single illustration a day, with the goal of producing 365 illustrations by the end of the year. She created a Facebook page to help hold herself accountable to her goal, and the result was more than she could have imagined: a dedicated following of friends, family, and total strangers; an online store selling her work, and a crowd-funded exhibit of her colourful pieces, situated at The Corner Gallery in Chippendale.
Minkley’s work is surprisingly lighthearted, considering the trauma that inspired it. The pieces, most of which are the size of a coffee-table book, are brightly coloured and full of detailed lines and patterns. Some of her work plays purely with shapes and lines, creating abstract tesselations of colour; while other pieces are portraits – some of men, some of women, and some of artist Frida Kahlo. She borrows heavily from modern pop culture, with lyrics from Pharrell’s ‘Happy’ appearing in a couple of her pieces; alongside nods to religion, the naked human form, and bearded and tattooed men.
Viewing the ‘Drawing A Day’ pieces was an incredibly uplifting experience; but in amongst her joyful explosions of colour and pattern there are small references to the weakness of the human body and the pain of the human experience. ‘I don’t have a skin like you do to keep it all inside’, reads a tiny caption underneath a portrait of two larger-than-life men; while another features a naked woman with ‘no vacancy’ written in block letters above her vulva. Peppered through all of this are motifs referencing Mexican pop art, and the duality of the moon and the sun.
Meg Minkley is an deeply talented artist with a knack for capturing what it is like to be a young woman. The themes in her work will be recognizable to all, but will interpret differently depending on the viewer. Some who connect with the trauma that inspired Minkley’s collection may spot tiny references and small notes of anger or escapism in her work; while others will simply enjoy her easily-digestible, pop-cult talking point pieces of art and youth.