Megan Nicolson - Threads of Environment

Threads of Environment

Warrnambool artist Megan Nicolson moved her art practice from oil painting to textiles when her children were small as it was easier to manage with a young family. “I also liked the links between domesticity and textile based work, historically it was feminine to work with craft and I learnt from my own mother,” she said.

Much of her work is based on environmental themes; she enjoys the relationship between the art of craft and environmental issues. She said to address them is a slow practice that takes time and she enjoys the idea of taking time to mend, mending the landscape, the fabric of humanity and existing with children.

“The majority of my fabrics are recycled and in the past I have worked with everything from doilies to fabrics that have been passed on. I am given a lot of threads and knowing the vast majority of things sent to landfill are clothes, the idea of being able to reuse them is important”.

For her upcoming WAG exhibition Soggy Homes: The Wonder of Wetlands, she will create an environment that is interactive and sensorial and is inspired by her childhood around Budj Bim National Park and living in South West Victoria, an area filled with wetlands that she has heard referred to as South West Kakadu.

She said historically the wetlands were drained, yet their ability to hold carbon holds massive potential for the environment. Through this show she hopes to raise ecological literacy in the community and share the story of the creature of the wetlands and their habitat.

Megan’s early textile practice included making soft toys and she saw an opportunity to engage children and give them knowledge and ideas by interacting with soft sculptures.

For her upcoming show at WAG she is creating oversized soft sculptures of threatened species that are unique to the local wetlands, so children can interact, climb on them and play.

The animals will be placed in an environment with a soundscape of recordings of the wetlands provided by Nature Glenelg Trust, an NGO that works with government and farmers to restore wetlands in South West Victoria and South Australia.

The wetland species she is recreating include the White Footed Dunnart, a carnivorous marsupial that feeds on insects and small reptiles. It was found living on the Belfast coast where a range of dunes and wetlands are in varying degrees of needing care.

“There is potential for them to be a rare and threatened creature, we don’t know what is there and we need to protect what we have and make sure that future generations have that legacy,” she said.

She is also making a large Growling Grass Frog, a Western Bright-Eyed Brown Butterfly (that is regionally extinct), the brightly-coloured vulnerable fish called Little Galaxias and other local fauna and flora like the swamp orchids found in the region.

“I really want to create a unique world in the Family Learning Centre that gives the feeling of being in a wetland, a wonderland,” she said.

Through the exhibition Megan hopes to inspire people in the community to get involved and help to collect data to broaden the knowledge base and protect vulnerable species.

Image: Works in progress by Megan Nicolson for the upcoming exhibition at WAG, Soggy Homes: The Wonder of Wetlands