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Meg Walters was born in Bermuda, entered the art world via London’s Chelsea College of Art and Design, and arrived in Australia to complete a BA of Illustration at Newcastle University. She spent time in the music industry, honed her aesthetic skill at Byron School of Art, and finally settled with her family in Newcastle, making a 1920s beach house their home.

The result of these experiences is a body of work that feels uniquely Australian - canvases that capture the joy of days at the beach or time in the bush, while hinting at something deeper. Her pieces are almost dream-like; a light-bathed melange of pastels that leave me feeling both calm and curious. Her scenes seem strikingly familiar, perhaps because Meg regularly explores the themes of longing, place and the power of nature - elements that play a part in all of our lives. Indeed, pondering her paintings, I think of my own ‘home’, which will always be Sydney, regardless of where I actually reside. I see beauty and nostalgia, imagine the subtle scent of eucalyptus, and can't help but be swept up in the colour.

When did you first pick up a paintbrush?

Probably before I could walk! It took me 32-plus years before I would make the leap from hobby to professional, though.

What do you think about when you're painting?

As strange as it sounds, I try to clear my mind when I'm painting. As much as possible, I rely on instinct and experience. I prefer to leave the analytical thinking towards the end of the process.

Has there been a piece that's come with a particularly special story?

They all have their own unique stories and memories. I think of paintings as relationships with people that you have to break up with eventually. Some end amicably and some you're happy to never see again.

What do you want people to feel - or think about - when they see your work?

It's almost impossible for me to predict what sort of reaction someone might have to my work. I'm thankful, if and when my work resonates enough with someone, that they feel something. I think whatever they feel is valid, highly subconscious and subjective - it draws from their own memories, emotions, stories and context in the world.

Your house in Newcastle sounds divine - can you tell us about the decor and the ways you've made it feel like home?

I live in a 1920s brick beach house with French doors and high ceilings. I have a mix of vintage furniture spanning Scandinavian Mid-Century through to 80s Brutalist pieces. I have art everywhere - art from friends, art from local artists whose work I love and a couple pieces of my own (although not many!). I'm a big collector of things - candles, vases, plants … the list goes on. This is the first house that I've lived in that really feels like home. It feels like my family and I are meant to be here, rather than just in transit. It's wonderfully lived in, cluttered and old, but it's ours.

What's your studio like - and what rituals help you get in a creative mood?

I share a warehouse studio space in one of Newcastle's Industrial areas. There's a collective of about seven artists spanning disciplines including ceramics, painting, textiles and more. I like to get in after I drop the kids off at daycare/school and start by organising my day. I'll usually journal, tidy up my space, or make surfaces to paint on. This helps me loosen up and organise my thoughts for the day and compile ideas.

The new Black Blaze packaging looks amazing. Which collections are they taken from?

'Australia, Living Land' was one of my first exhibitions. It was based off of a six-day hike I did in Tasmania. It was completely wild, unforgiving terrain which pushed me to my limit. The elements were against us with blizzards, hail, sleet, floods and more. I wanted to capture this energy in my works.

'Skin on Skin' was born out of our first lockdown experience in 2020. It was a time when we felt very uncomfortable with being too close to anyone physically. There was a real tangible fear in the air and I wanted to expose this through touch and bodies overlapping. The beach seemed like a natural place to do this.

You're obviously incredibly connected to the Australia landscape; does it have any defining scents?

Absolutely! Living by the beach there's always a zing in the air with the scent of salt and seaweed. There's eucalyptus forest surrounding us so we pick up on that crisp earthy smell as well that's characteristic of so much of Australia. I think the smells here are much more subtle but still so wonderfully captivating.

What is your peaceful place?

My peaceful place is a little tiny island called Bermuda in the Atlantic Ocean where I grew up. It's not my home anymore but it will forever be my peaceful place.

Interview by Liz Schaffer

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