Maria Merridan is our artist of the month and it based at Fenners.
How would you describe your current practice (eg materials, techniques, themes, key questions, approach)?
I work with mixed media; print, collage and drawing.
Without normal access to working tools or space during the first lock-down, I started to learn how to construct images digitally, completing an introductory Adobe Illustrator course, virtually at St Martin’s College of Art. Over a 30 day period (01.05.20 – 30.05.20) I recorded my daily movement by tracking routes with an App called Strava and taking photographs.
Initially, I looked for commonality between the marks I saw, for example; lines created by water runoff, the pathways used by people and the tracks made by animals. Over the days, routes became more purposeful, focusing on land-marks, areas of scientific interest and local history.
During this period I was contemplating time, reflecting on how it is measured and recorded. I noted the insignificant statistics of my daily exercise (revealing how alive I am) compared to the significant numbers of UK deaths from Covid-19. The phases of the moon, daylight/night-time, places that no longer exist and people who are now gone. The work from this period was included in an Issuu publication of work produced by the artists at Digswell, Letchworth and can be viewed on the social media links attached.
The photographs and digital artwork produced during this time, was a starting point. I have since continued to develop my imagery further, utilising more familiar media including; a cutting tool – to cut the shapes of my Strava runs from card, a series of dry point prints, based on notable gravestones in the churches I have visited and moon cycles. I have become interested in the organisation of graves in cemeteries both recent and past and I am hoping to expand the experimentation using large photo screen prints.
I do not generally work with an end in sight, I tend to let the artwork dictate the direction in which I travel. I like the lack of clarity at the beginning of a project, purposely introducing elements of chance. I tend not to worry about purpose either, finding that as I progress, the work becomes more cohesive, focused and meaning grows.
What are you working on at the moment (forthcoming exhibitions, events, workshops, etc)?
Normally the months of November and December are really busy, I focus my attention on selling hand-printed lino prints and illustrations under the name of Coded Storm (see social media links below), however, the second lock-down and subsequent tier restrictions has meant many events have been cancelled. I have embraced some digital platforms and I am presently selling at Ely Cathedral’s Virtual Christmas Fair and have a slot in Handmade in Bedford’s Takeover promotion.
I am pleased to have ‘Helios’ accepted for the Letchworth Open at the Broadway Gallery which is scheduled in the near future. This work was produced in collaboration with Dr Helen Mason MBE, and explores imaging the magnetic fields of the Sun.
What are you plans for the coming year?
Hopefully, 2021 will see a complete easing of the current restrictions, I hope to start-up my print workshops again, teaching beginners, lino, collagraphy, dry-point and mono processes.
I aim to refine the body of work described above, and would really like to exhibit this work in the Digswell Arts Gallery, in Letchworth.
For the past six years I have been involved in Creative Reactions, Pint of Science Festival in Cambridge, producing works in collaboration with scientists, I hope to be involved in this event for a 7th year. I would really like to expand my work in this area and intend to look for other science based opportunities.
What is the question that you most get asked about your work?
Because my work tends to be multi-layered, with both drawing, painting and print processes, I often get asked how I layer the imagery and how the surface is constructed.
Who are what inspires you?
I am inspired by science and the natural world. I like to walk and run outside, I gather inspiration from what I see in the landscape, weather and wildlife. I love birds, I am interested in their migration and journeys.
Which artists do you most admire and why?
I admire artists whose work can resonate with a broad audience.
I really love the work of Olafur Eliasson, Richard Long, Julie Mehrutu, Thomas Heatherwick, Joseph Turner, Robert Montgomery, Bill Viola and Katie Patterson to name but a few!
How has your relationship with Digswell Arts strengthened your practice as an artist?
Digswell has allowed me space to work, and to feel part of a collective of accomplished artists. The eclectic range of artists is really inspiring, I can view work in a range of specialisms, and this generates new ways of thinking and approaching my own work. I learn from the other fellows, some are more experienced in terms of selling, promotion, working with galleries, social media etc. it is a great opportunity to share and learn.
I really enjoyed the Digswell University of Herts training day we had in December 2019, I found it inspiring and motivating. When I work in isolation you do sometimes question the point of my own practice. Being part of Digswell collective helps me to see the validity of my work.
Please give details of your website and social media contacts
Issuu Magazine :- https://issuu.com/digswellarts/docs/from_our_yard_final