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Merryn J Trevethan

About Merryn

Merryn Trevethan is best known for her abstracted cityscapes depicted with highly saturated colors.  Her work is a reflection on the reality and experiences of living in increasingly globalized cities, constantly in a state of flux.  She works across a range of mediums from large-scale wall works, public art, and spatial interventions, to painting, drawing, small sculpture, and artists books.

Trevethan is an Australian artist currently based in Singapore.  She holds a Masters of Fine Art from Monash University, AU (2005).  Since relocating to Singapore in 2014, she has completed several large-scale commissions including murals for Facebook’s South East Asian Headquarters in Singapore.

Trevethan exhibits internationally, holding regular solo exhibitions as well as participating in many group exhibitions including Made In Paint 2019 at the Sam and Adele Golden Gallery, New York, USA and Apertures at Yeo Workshop, SG.  In addition, she has created public art for festivals in Singapore and Melbourne including her award winning work for DRIVE – Public Art Festival at Singapore’s Gillman Barracks.

In 2018, Trevethan was a resident Artist at the Golden Foundation Residency Program in New York and at NPE Print Residency in Singapore.  She was a past resident at Red Gate International Artist Residency in Beijing China.

Merryn’s artwork


How do you describe your work to others?
Very colourful abstracted cityscapes.

Do you have a preferred medium?
I guess I’d have to say panting, specifically acrylics, and more specifically Golden acrylics.  They have the best colours!

How do you begin new work?
A new body of work will usually stem from observational drawings and photographs that undergo a process of distillation in the studio.

Do you tend to work in series or do you see your body of work as a continuation?
I tend to see my practice as a series of evolutions that flow into one another.  My work seems to go through a cycle becoming increasingly abstracted as it progresses.  I cycle through a range of scales and different iterations.  I don’t necessarily see these series as distinct or ending but there is occasionally a need for a reboot and before I know it a new cycle has started.

What do you use as reference material?
Observational drawings and my own photographs.

What’s your favourite colour to work with?
That’s a bit like asking to name your favourite child!  But Phthalo Green (Blue Shade), Phthalo Green (Yellow Shade).. all the Quinacridones (Red, Magenta, Nickel Azo Gold, Burnt Orange)..Pyrrole Orange.. Pyrrole Red- If it’s hard to pronounce and spell all the better!  I am currently hooked on Cobalt Green and Cobalt Teal.
OK so it’s fair to say I am pretty obsessed with colour.. all of them!

Where do you create?
I have a small studio in my apartment on the 12th floor of a block of condos in the middle of Singapore.  It is challenging to work with the space constraints but I make the most of it and try and arrange for break out spaces when I need to work on something bigger.

Do you have a studio ritual to start the session?
Not really – I tend to get admin out of the way in the mornings and then studio work in the arvos and evening.  I feel like I hit my stride later in the day.

What’s your favourite music to work to?
I have been listening to a lot more instrumental music lately Phillip Glass or Nick Cave and Warren Ellis are particular favourites, but it can vary a lot.  My favourite album to start a large painting to is definitely Patti Smith’s Horses.

Do you enjoy coming up with titles?
I do.  My titles tend to come from phrases picked up from the media or terms that pop up in current events while a body of work is developing, sometimes from books I am reading.  I write them down as I go and then they seem to fall in to place as an exhibition or their completion approaches.  I don’t like to force them.

What’s your favourite part of creating?
I would have to say the problem solving aspects but also the joy I get from putting 2 colours together and being constantly surprised that this joy never seems to end.  There is always a new combo out there waiting to be seen.

How do you alleviate the down times?
I try and concentrate on other projects, read and look a lot more, then just start working again.  I see it as a chance to take stock and check in on myself, to make sure I am making the work I want to make and if I’m not think about how I can make changes so I am.  I remind myself it is okay to have some down time.. although often not very successfully – I am a compulsive worker.  So normally after a few days of funk get back to it.

What defining moments have you experienced within your practice?
Winning a public art prize for a mural I did only months after arriving in Singapore was certainly one, helping to establish me here.  This led to creating a series of massive wall works at the Facebook offices in Singapore was an incredible opportunity to push my practice.  More recently getting to spend 1 month at the Golden Foundation residency in upstate New York was an unforgettable experience. T he Golden Foundation’s generosity and the people I met and opportunity to develop my practice in a very concentrated way is something that will stay with me for a long time.

What is the most memorable exhibition or artwork you have seen and why?
I was lucky enough to see the recent Hilma Af Klint exhibition at the Guggenheim in New York – twice in fact.  It totally blew me away!  The scale and enormous presence of the works was undeniable.  The visual language Af Klint developed, pretty anonymously, was incredibly striking.  The fact that her abstractions predate that of men famous for “inventing abstraction” was also a factor.  It felt revolutionary that she was finally getting her due and I think it really prompted a wider rethinking of the way that female artists have been largely written out of history.  It seemed like entirely the right time and definitely the right place, for the exhibition – the relationship to the spiral of the Guggenheim and the entire building was most uncanny.

Also the James Turrel retrospective at the NGA in Canberra a few years ago.  Being totally immersed in coloured light like that was a truly memorable experience.  His vision is extraordinary.

What does the future hold for you?
More everything!  More making, more travel, more light boxes, more colour!

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