Meg Viney

A collection of works and musings from an artist.

Artist Statement

Meg VineyFrom 1969 to1983 I lived on the West Coast of USA, completing a B.F.A in Fibre sculpture at San Francisco University.

I had not been aware of the importance of the spirit of my homeIand as an integral part of my life until it was absent. However, during a study of tribal cultures, I experienced affinity with Native American Culture. I was struck by the spirituality of these people, who consider all things equal, respect all things, care for all things and believe that all things have spirit.

Native American art celebrates the continuity of a land mass and man’s absorption of its features. By subtly altering, decorating, formalizing nature’s materials, the perception of the quality and role of plant or animal life as man’s spiritual accompaniment is enhanced. Art evokes a living treasure: nature. Its aesthetic draws us close to the earth.

The pace of life in California was stressful, but Native American culture offered a refuge, and, over time, the affinity grew and began to influence my work. I was never tempted to emulate the art, because that would be disrespectful. In fact, in most tongues, there is no word for ‘art’ as an independent concept. It was not the objects that drew me, rather the emphasis on respect for all that is, an abiding sense of Spirit. So the work emanated from my understanding of, and my response to, tribal culture.

Upon return to my homeland Australia, I looked at the environment with more awareness, more reverence, and with what I had learned about ‘nature as a living treasure’.

I began looking at plant fibres, with their potential for making paper and started to experiment with all sorts of plant fibres.

There was a shift from an affinity with Native American culture to a full immersion in my beloved Australian culture and a deep love of her environment.

Fred Williams said that he believes an artist essentially only makes one work in his/her lifetime, one central concern that is visited a multitude of times – so an artist revisits the concept that is central to his/her art.

This is true of my own work – there has always been a central concern with containment – this concept ensures emotional, spiritual and physical security, and my work with vessels are just that.

Vessels conjure a recognition that all living entities emerge from a vessel which has held and nurtured the gestating form from conception to emergence – be it an egg, a cocoon, a uterus, a bud, a seedpod, a shell – the reality is Universal – the inference, the possibility of containment. Many of my works are figurative, and yet I perceive them as vessels. People are containers of life, of love, of one another. A mother contains the foetus and then emotionally contains her infant bringing him/her to independence and maturity. Women are, in that sense, vessels.

My practise involves a relationship with Nature’s momentum – I find something wonderful in gathering her cast-offs, and, through a number of simple processes, transforming them. The cast-offs that would otherwise decompose are recycled to become new materials, which have a life of their own – thus the beauty inherent in the plant fibre and subtly concealed by the living plant is revealed as new form.

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