MEAGAN JACOBS
EARTH TO SKY

EARTH TO SKY

 

Meagan Jacobs is a rarity. Rare in the subtlety of her colour and rare in her soulful and concrete commitment to landscape. Composed of strong interlocking forms, her work is meditative,  both tightly knit and unpredictably expansive. “It’s strange” she admits “to fit the whole of the desert into the small square of a painting. Looking out into this amazing vista, how do you compress it? I guess my discipline is to distil. What is physically available becomes a template for the infinite.”

 

For the past three years, Jacobs has worked with the Warlukurlangu Artists. Warlukurlangu means ‘belonging to fire’ in the local language, Warlpiri, and is named after a fire dreaming site west of Yuendumu. It was here that she took the long dawn walks before the sun turns to flame. It was here that she flew over a land so vast it was convex. And it was here that her relationship to colour, three decades deep, came into its own power. Her hues are not literal. Red earth might be the core of the centre, almost a signal of place, yet it is also a pigment that creates a veil of delicate light, bruised with violet and blue grey.

 

Jacobs’ desert is a polyphony, both verdant or parched.

Working on boards with oils, she enjoys the luxury of time and the chance to scrape back sheer passages or intensify her paint in rich layers. Her compositions bear the freedom of collage. Their forms can look torn open or delicately fused. Wed to abstract lineage, the paintings cleave between a basis in nature and the raw energy of geometry. In many you can find mountains, branches and ravines but they also converge. In her hands the conventional process of breaking down a physical form into an abstract shape is not predictable. Jacobs has such a firm grip on pure abstraction that her work satisfies completely polar axioms: the romantic landscape and the compelling void.

 

Informed by her passion for cartography,  the paintings can float or feel anchored and magnetic; carved with the monumental density of rock. Her line and forms speak of geology in an intimate way, almost as if her expeditions into crags and foothills forged an earth-bound cosmology.

 

In this work the joy is palpable. The paintings in “Earth to Sky” make the potential for pattern and colour relationships seem boundless. In the desert it seems that the idea of a changing sky and a fixed earth is inverted, as the spinifex form their own clouds. In the interior, instead of dessication, Jacobs finds opulence. A fertile meeting place for mineral blues and rose petal ochres. Her palette builds in a refined accretion:

 

“Nothing changes and everything changes. Roads, rocks, land formations, distant views, and mapping are the ‘subjects’ that matter to me. I’m compelled by geometry. My paintings are the mapping of where I’ve been. When you spend a deep amount of time in a vast place you begin to notice confluences between the patterns of rocks, land and trees. And formally the work contains those layers, the strata built by time. I like the history of what’s come before to come through, so I fracture the surface.”

 

Although many of the works in this exhibit refer to Warlukurlangu country, they also signal a change. In April of this year, Jacobs moved to Warialda (the place of wild honey) in rural NSW. The shift has influenced the construction of her paintings. The dominant line of the horizon in her desert works start to tumble and dance in these parts. Yet bridging the distance is the shared language of stone. In Warialda geology speaks:

 

“The rock formations around here are Mount Kaputar - ancient volcano, the sandstone outcrop along the Koorilgur walk and the precarious giant boulder stacks on the outskirts of town belonging to the traditional owners the Kamilaroi people.”

 

The influence of mountains and boulders lends a replete quality to her paintings. Each piece locks boldly into place. The sharp contrasts of colour work like  tectonic plates, thrusting landforms from their ancient roosts, presenting an earth that is volatile and alive. Wedding bare expanses of colour to pockets of intricate pattern, the impact is tactile. While most of the paintings are not massive in scale they are immersive. A potent yield of so many years in wild places.

 

The studio at Warialda rambles across the rooms of an old house. Sprawling her colours out on a massive kitchen bench that serves as her palette, Jacobs takes pleasure in mixing every shade and says she has a keen memory for every mutation of colour. “Nothing straight from the tube” is her rule and it seems to reflect her way. A deeply personal perception of nature. And, through hard won communion, a language that is hers alone.

 

Anna Johnson

Earth To Sky
Earth To Sky

60 x 60cm Oil on Board $2200

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Permian Shadow
Permian Shadow

60 x 60cm Oil on Board $2200

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Twin Rib Tree
Twin Rib Tree

60 x 60cm Oil on Board $2200

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Pushing Through New Ground
Pushing Through New Ground

122 x 152 cm Oil on Linen $6500

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Night of Nandewar
Night of Nandewar

60 x 60cm Oil on Board $2200

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Ground Water
Ground Water

60 x 60cm Oil on Board $2200

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Catching Water
Catching Water

76 x 56cm Oil on Board $2600

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Mount Kaputar
Mount Kaputar

76 x 56cm Oil on Board $2600

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Inland Sea
Inland Sea

70 x 60cm Oil on Board $2600

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Overflow
Overflow

60 x 70cm Oil on Board $2600

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Cotton Road
Cotton Road

60 x 70cm Oil on Board $2600

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Black Rock
Black Rock

60 x 60cm Oil on Paper $600

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Koorilgur Walk
Koorilgur Walk

60 x 60cm Oil on Paper $600

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Individual Exhibitions:


2018 'Shadow Place' Shoalhaven Regional Gallery
2017 'Shadow Dog' Manse Studio Milton
2017 'Sunday Road' Gallery East Clovelly
2016 'Heart Land' Tallwood – Mollymook
2016 'Walking Thru The Land' Gallery East Clovelly
2015 'Desert, Dogs & Dust – Cupitts Winery
2014 'Unearth III' - Shoalhaven Regional Gallery
2012 'Unearth' Ulladulla Guest House Gallery
2011 'Round a Lazy Bend' Ulladulla Guest House Gallery
2010 'Imagining Ruby' Ulladulla Guest House Gallery
2009 'Embellish' Ulladulla Guest House Gallery
2007 'My Space' Shoalhaven City Art Centre


Selected Group Exhibitions:


2020 ‘Small Works’ - Fenton & Fenton Melbourne
2019 'Modern Love' AK Bellinger Gallery Inverell
2018 '20 Year Anniversary' Gallery East Clovelly
2017 'Summer Group Show' Gallery East Clovelly
2016 'Interconnected' Form Gallery Queanbeyan
2014 'Lost in Waste' Shoalhaven Regional Gallery
2014 'Reading the Land' Ulladulla
2013 Broken Hill Solar Powered Film Festival
2012 'Eight Shades of Red' Alley Gallery Ulladulla
2012 'COA Award' Alley Gallery Ulladulla
2011 'Summer on the Coast' Alley Gallery Ulladulla
2011 'Alley Archies' Alley Gallery Ulladulla
2010 'Black & White' Alley Gallery Ulladulla
2009 'Uke & Art' King Studio Milton
2009 'La Vita Artistica' Salmon Gallery McMahons Point
2009 12th Meroogal Womens Art Prize touring exhibition - selected
2009 Meroogal Womens Art Prize Shoalhaven Regional Gallery
2009 'Playful Art' Salmon Galleries McMahons Point
2008 'Scissors Paper Rock' Shoalhaven Regional Gallery
2008 'From the Ground Up' Coast Gallery Milton
2008 Meroogal Womens Art Prize Shoalhaven Regional Gallery
2008 'Group Show' Michael Commerford Art Gallery - Rushcutters Bay
2007 'Mountains to the Sea' Coast Gallery Milton
2007 'Global' Coast Gallery Milton 2006 "Abstraction" Global Gallery Paddington
2006 Meroogal Womens Art Prize Shoalhaven Regional Gallery
2006 'Spring' Green House Gallery Milton
2003 'Group Show' Salmon Galleries McMahons point
2002 'Blend' Tabula Rasa Contemporary Art Festival