Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Authors on Artists: LK Shaw on Meggie Green

Walking through fields alone, listening to music through headphones, I suddenly remembered a screenshot I had taken whilst watching some BBC art documentary several months ago. I couldn't remember what the film was about or who the painting was by, I could only remember the words, which read:

In the dim, 4pm, November light, the fields I was walking through, to take a break from writing at my computer, seemed in comparison (to everything inside of the computer) to be, just that; completely ordinary. Everything was grey and dying and there was barely any movement, just the occasional murder of crows flying overhead, somewhat ominously. I returned to my screen and googled the painting.  It's called 'Lordship Lane Station, Dulwich', and is by Camille Pissarro. Although the details of the painting are irrelevant to this particular discourse. I was mostly just interested in the subtitle. 

It takes great sensitivity to enjoy a place as ordinary as this

The next day around the same time, I went out to walk around again, determined to process thoughts I could write down coherently when I returned to my computer. This time though, two things happened which were very different from the previous afternoon. The first, was that I was listening to the Elvis Costello album, 'All This Useless Beauty', and the title track was repeatedly asking me the question,

What shall we do with all this useless beauty?

The second was that the sky had somehow transformed from yesterday's grey mass of never ending cloud, into today's enormous, magnificent light show of blues and purples and oranges. The size of it, incomprehensible. The nonchalance of its contrast, almost laughable. I held my phone up to photograph the fading sun and wrote;

This, being the sunset. The passing of time. The turning of the Earth.

 It occurred to me that there can be something extraordinary in every place, if the light catches it just the right way. As Elvis continued to ask, 'What shall we do with all this useless beauty?', my thoughts turned to the work of Meggie Green, who, it seems to me, has developed a  distinctive style, rooted in catharsis, which like the sunlight I saw this afternoon, transforms the ordinary into the fantastic and even the magical. 

With regard to all of this useless beauty, she laughs. 


Sadness and heartache are often central to the foundations of Meggie's work, but her response is always merry and optimistic.  It's really hard to believe, 'Everything is different now, it's different and it's awful' (words attributed to her grandma), when she presents the idea so playfully. Her work acknowledges pain and then immediately distracts us from it. 
Likewise in her 'PICK ME' embroidery, the image of the claw which looms down over choppy waters, completely missing the girl behind the glass, is humorous and  childlike at first glance, but the words stitched above the machine, confirm the presence of a helpless, human desire for something or somebody out of reach. The thing about those claw games is that we don't expect to win anything, but we keep taking a chance on them in hopes that maybe one day we finally will do. Meggie's work is characteristically hopeful. And the great sensitivity described in reference to Pissarro's painting is always present in her art. There's a certain kindness and sincerity to her work, which is so often missing from contemporary culture. It feels reassuring to me. 

It is in her videos though, that the true scope of her expression can really be seen. Meggie made the popular book trailers for Mira Gonzalez's  'I will never be beautiful enough to make us beautiful together' and Richard Chiem's, 'You Private Person'. But her vimeo channel  also features many other short productions, including these two particularly charming and personal pieces.

'goddamnit michael'

'i am going to drive around for a while and i want to stay with you if you want that too'

Her work allows us to feel overwhelmingly happy, whilst communicating vulnerability and sincerity. And her devotion to highlighting what is beautiful in life is so compelling, largely, I think, because she shows us the simple things which we should already be able to see. She shines some more light on the ordinary, and she handles it with a great sensitivity. And aside from all of that, it is consistently fun, which I don't believe is something that should ever be taken for granted.

You can see more work by Meggie Green on  her tumblr & in Shabby Doll House, where she has also published prose. Her instagram account is a beautifully curated catalog of daily life. 

And I will leave you to ponder this 'very true embroidery #2'.


LK Shaw is the founding editor of Shabby Doll House