As part of our Summer 2021 Digital Residency we spoke to Artist-in-Residence Maria Meyer about her art practice and inspiration. During the summer Maria will share her creative journey of ideas and developing artworks in response to the theme Grounding us to Earth through the Digital. Maria will explore how, in our increasingly digital world, we stay connected and grounded with Earth – the soil, the planet and other humans.
UH Arts: We are delighted that you are our Artist-in-Residence this summer and are looking forward to seeing your new work develop. Please introduce yourself – who is Maria Meyer?
MARIA MEYER: I am a multidisciplinary artist working across photography, installation and video and when I’m not making art, I am mother to my 11-year-old daughter. I live in St Albans and am in the final year of an MA in Fine Art at the University of Hertfordshire.
UH ARTS: Please tell us a little bit about your practice, for example what you make, materials, art forms and ideas?
MM: Before the coronavirus, I was working with found objects, assemblage and installations, but the lockdown put a stop to my skip diving and collecting of objects.
Without a studio my work became digital through necessity, so rather than working with found objects I started to work with found images of objects and my own photographs. Working in Photoshop and iMovie I create digital work that is ultimately printed or exists as digital films.
My current work examines the symbolic and emotional potential of objects by taking images of them, digitally manipulating them to create layered surfaces and ambiguous narratives. I often use repetition and pattern, juxtaposing familiar manmade and natural objects taken from their habitual settings or functions, to make them appear strange or uncanny, leaving the viewer to ascribe their own meaning.
"My current work examines the symbolic and emotional potential of objects"
UH ARTS: As your practice involves the digital manipulation of images and objects, collage and assemblage - how does the residency thematic of the Grounding us to Earth through the Digital resonate with your practice and the approach to this residency?
MM: It’s through a digital lens and digital manipulation, that the objects I have been working with become ‘activated’. It is interesting to see whilst out in the natural environment, people often feel compelled to take photographs to record what they are seeing/experiencing rather than just experiencing it. This framing or focusing on objects using mobile phones or cameras, rather than taking people away from their surroundings, perhaps draws them in more to the details and intensifies the objects of their gaze.
Painters sometimes use mirrors to look at a painting they are working on, as if the image looks different when viewed through a secondary filter or device. Walking through nature with a camera is a way of slowing down and really looking at what is around me, objects when viewed through the lens take on a jewelled hyper-real quality. Using digital devices to illuminate the natural world around us is a way to reconnect with it, whilst ultimately having a permanent albeit digital record of that experience.
"Using digital devices to illuminate the natural world around us is a way to reconnect with it"
UH ARTS: This residency is an opportunity to create new work and share digitally with people. Could you tell us about how you will use this time to explore ideas and experiment in a digital space?
MM: The residency will focus on the Bayfordbury Campus which is 40 Hectares of grassland, ancient woodland, a pinetum, rivers and ponds. Being of Italian heritage, I have childhood memories of pine forests and the resinous smell warmed up by the summer heat, I have always felt drawn to pine forests, so the Pinetum is of particular interest to me.
I will spend the summer in the Clinton Baker Pinetum recording sound, image and film footage to work with digitally back in my studio. The land is private land, so it is possible to spend a whole day there and not see any other humans. With only the animals and trees for company it should be an immersive and ‘grounding’ experience, which will hopefully be born out in the work I produce.
"With only the animals and trees for company it should be an immersive and ‘grounding’ experience"
UH ARTS: Anything else you wish to talk about?
MM: No, except that I am very much looking forward to it.
Thank you so much for talking with us today Maria – we look forward to seeing your work emerge over the coming months.
Maria Meyer is a multi-disciplinary artist studying MA Fine Art at The University of Hertfordshire. Meyer's current work draws from the ideas of Cubism and Ready-mades, but is characterised by a contemporary digital aesthetic.
Meyer has and sells work to international collectors online and exhibitions include at Masons Yard Gallery, Mayfair, London (2019), Surface Gallery, Nottingham (2020) and has a solo show in summer 2021 at Broadway Gallery, Letchworth.
Find out more about at: mariameyer.co.uk