After having to pause her passion for painting to become a mother, artist Polly Merredew recently reignited her love for geometric abstract art. Taking on her first studio space in years, Polly has completed her first public art commission and assisted artist Morag Myerscough. Here we chat to Polly about her story.
Can you tell us your backstory and how you got into the art world?
I graduated with a BA(Hons) in Fine Art back in 2003 and it has been a bit of a rollercoaster since then! My degree show was a sell-out and from there I worked as a studio artist with a local gallery in Birmingham, UK. I took part in many exhibitions and curated my own solo shows alongside selling my work.
Then I had children and as many working mothers will know, the juggling act of both became almost impossible so my painting went on the back burner for a little while. This enforced career break made me evaluate where I wanted to be, and I am more determined and passionate than ever about being an artist. A few months ago, I took on the first studio space I’ve had in years!
My most recent achievement was completing my first public art commission for Coventry City Council as part of the year of ‘City of Culture’. I designed and painted 8 anti-terrorist blocks situated in the city centre for a street dressing project.
I have also assisted the artist, Morag Myerscough, on her village installation at Compton Verney, Warwickshire.
How would you describe your signature style and technique?
I am a Geometric Abstract Artist with a passion for colour. I love to achieve clean, straight lines for seamless transitions between colours. However, I do leave small areas where the artist’s hand is evident, including some pencil marks where I have drawn up the canvas before painting or where lines don’t quite perfectly meet. It is important for me to allow some of the process to show through to distinguish it as hand painted and human rather than machine produced. These marks become part of my signature.
How important are colour and shape in your work?
Colour is a means of communication without the need for the written word.
Colour can create emotion, be uplifting and empowering. It can be quiet and meditative or explosive and energetic; it can convey meaning and change a mood. It can create joy and enhance a space. All these ideas I explore within my painting practice.
I use bold, systematic colours to create subtle nuances of movement and progression within a painting. The resulting visual effects can be both stimulating and confusing to the eye as works appear to shimmer and move, often in unexpected ways.
Use of the geometric shape is hugely important in my painting practice. It imposes order and regularity that I disrupt with varying tones of colour to create harmony and discord. This is often reflective of my own personal experiences and feelings at the time of creation, adding an autobiographical element to each piece.
Are there any exhibitions or events you are planning?
More recently, I have been considering how I could create an uplifting and immersive, almost meditative experience for the viewer by experimenting with space and scale. Having had a taste of the impact of public art through my recent projects I am keen to explore and develop some of these ideas further through collaboration with other artists and organisations. If anyone wants to give me a space or even a wall I’d love to chat!
I am also currently preparing for an Art Fair, where I am planning on exhibiting some small original paintings both on canvas and paper. These are usually experiments that precede and inform larger pieces of work.
What is the best advice you received as an artist?
Take time to explore your creativity and find your artistic voice. Find that ‘thing’ that you are passionate about, and it will show in all that you do. Connect with like-minded people and nurture those relationships, they are so valuable to you and will provide you with support, opportunities and potential collaborations. Being an artist can be a solitary profession so build that support network to stay connected.
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