John Kinross Scholar in 2000
Megan Rea, Florence, oil on tape, 2019
At the time of the Scholarship:
How did the experience affect you as an individual?
As the first individually lead project post-education, I found it incredibly liberating. I was excited to investigate a subject outside of a university setting and gain new skills from a self-directed position. I rebuilt my love for a sketchbook and took it everywhere I went, constantly stopping and doing a quick doodle as I walked around the city. I think my time spent in Florence strengthened my proactivity, I structured my day very well and immersed myself in everything I could. Time in a different city gave me space to think about my work in a new headspace. I tried to break the routine of how I would usually start and build a piece of work, it was a fantastic way to refresh my brain.
What was the impact on your practice?
Previous to the scholarship I created very angular work, my paintings focusing on block colours and sharp shapes, inspired by brutalist architecture. Being surrounded by decorative Gothic buildings in Florence pushed me to investigate their decoratively patterned facades and towering spires. Repetition of form was heavily featured in my Italian sketchbook and I began to introduce much softer shades in my paintings, reflecting the soft greens and pinks of the city. I made the most of all that was available to me, visiting most of the churches and galleries. I became obsessed with the architecture painted in medieval alter pieces and noticed that buildings had been stretched and distorted to fit on each panel whilst each figure was proportionate. I took this style to use in my own work, exaggerating the length of the walls of a structure and squishing the tops just before the top of the page/canvas.
What would you say the long term impact has been on yourself and your work?
Medieval painting style has been a major influence on my work since first witnessing it in Florence. The illustrations of churches and homes seem so contemporary despite the time they were produced and my paintings often reference their distortion. My current practice is focusing on stretching sections of a historic sundial in Jaipur in the same style as the Florentine alter pieces painted 600 years ago- I’m aiming to create a triptych much like an early alter piece. This technique clearly has much longevity and I hope to continue to investigate its possibilities throughout my artistic career.