by Ruby Bisson
Meg is a young artist from the Northern Beaches of Sydney and she has a story to tell. She is a creative, a thread designer, adventurer and a survivor.
Just over a year ago, Meg ventured to Mexico for a holiday. It was on this trip that she was raped by the owner of the hostel she was staying at. The horrific act forced Meg to cut her trip short and return home. Meg has since used her art to express her pain, she sought comfort through art and colour, as she had not been able to find the support groups that she longed for. She challenged herself to produce one artwork a day for an entire year, naming the project ‘A Drawing a Day’.
Meg has spoken about the positive aspects this project has had on her life:
‘The process of producing one artwork a day helped me process emotions in a way I would not have been able to do with words… 365 days later, I found myself stronger, braver, better. With 365 drawings, a happy heart and a very loud voice. As a survivor through art and by speaking not hiding, this creative challenge has given me the courage to feel colourful again; I am now using my work and my voice to share this bravery with other fellow survivors whom might not have the colours they are searching for in order to regain a happy life again…”
I chatted to Meg to see what she was up to, to find out more about these illustrations and what her plans were for the future.
Has art been able to give you something different, something that a person or group couldn’t offer?
Absolutely. It’s like a deep meditation – to create with your hands. In fear of sounding wanky, I don’t know how else to describe it… but it’s always been a lot like breathing for me. It has given me solace and refuge. And probably most importantly it has validated my thoughts and emotions since my experience in Mexico.
I really believe that everyone has it in them though, to be creative – we are all artists. You just have to be brave enough to make a mess.
Has your art led to a connection or support network with others that didn’t exist before?
Not really. However, with the Drawing A Day project and coming out publicly with my story, it has recently led my colours to make quite a big connection with people (other survivors, creative supporters etc) and I feel a beautiful foundation emerging from it. I am hoping to create a foundation or creative sanctuary/gallery that offers the resources I was so in search of when I first returned home from Mexico. I predict something pretty exciting to erupt.
Meg elaborates on this further in a recent interview with Yen magazine; ‘
‘There is a stereotype out there of the broken woman and we have to be educated enough to change it. I think they call it second-victimisation. When you are raped you feel incredibly worthless, I know there was a long period of time there I couldn’t even look in the mirror, I really didn’t recognise myself. When you step into a society that doesn’t know how to handle the situation, or those “conservative” few make it more than obvious to NOT talk about it at all, or the lady at rape crisis feels uncomfortable by tears, or even having the word thrown around out of context – it further enforces that worthless feeling. You are immediately alienated. We need to change this now. And that is what I want to do.”
Who or what inspires you and how do you utilise this in your art?
My biggest inspiration would be my travels. What my eyes see, and what my ears hear. The places I have been, the people I have met. Song lyrics can often ring true to me so I draw whatever comes from words or poetry. Funnily enough, pain and hurt is often at the core of every great artist, so despite the trauma of it, my experiences (both good and bad) have influenced my work enormously.
I noticed you created a donate page some time ago and successfully reached your financial goal. Congratulations! What do you plan to do with this money?
In order to get the 365 works of A Drawing A Day behind glass, preserved for a lifetime of eyeball ogling through conservation framing and available to the public – I desperately needed the help of the public. To be able to raise a substantial amount of funding to White Ribbon and to continue spreading the colour by breaking this taboo – I desperately needed help.
Each artwork costs $50 to frame, and with 365 pieces I was looking at a grand total of $18,250.
This is an incredible amount of coins but as far as high end conservation framing goes it was essential and absolutely had to be done. Conservation framing literally preserves the artwork forever, and as a professional artist I will not let any great colour be boxed up any other way.
With the money raised to exhibit these drawings, donators are allowing me tell my story publicly – spread the word, break the silence and raising much needed funds for the White Ribbon foundation.
Any extra funds went towards other inevitable costs that arise when hosting an exhibition – invitations, advertising, renting of a venue, and in this particular case a few introductory clothing pieces to a small fashion label I have created titled ‘She’. For those who would rather wear art on your body than see it on your walls – or in the case of the very silenced cycle of domestic violence, a woman such as this can wear a piece of ‘She’ and feel the camaraderie between her and her fellow survivor warriors. Any extra coin contributed towards the very costly production of this : printing fabric with original artwork, sewing garments, producing labels, etc.
I had several extremely delicious rewards for the unbelievably generous pledges. I am eternally grateful, thankful and humble for the generosity shown and even if it’s just your eyeballs having an ogle at this campaign and then passing on by, I thank you for that, because it means I have broken at least just one more silence.
I am incredibly excited at the direction my work is headed. I am excited to see what happens with ‘She’ and I am very excited to look back on the next 365 days sometime next year to see what thoughts and colours came out of it. I look forward to creating a new foundation that looks toward the real girl, a place that encourages conversation and educates society on how to handle and how to use the word rape. We are seeing advertisements everyday on cancer, smoking and alcoholism, and rightly so. But I truly believe that rape and violence needs to be included in that group and spread around in the right way. This is the first step, speaking up – you just never know who might share in the same story. I am very excited to continue this work and I know that slowly but surely those walls will fall down to a point where eventually we can throw away the word ‘taboo’ altogether when talking about rape.
All images by Meg Minkley
Meg was recently interviewed on ‘Conversations with Richard Fidler’, you can find the conversation, here.
You can find out more about White Ribbon, the organisation Meg raised money for, here.