Based in Auckland New Zealand, Kenneth Merrick’s work orbits around drawing, painting and digital/analogue media. Merrick graduated with a Bachelor of Design and Visual Arts, Unitec, Auckland in 2012 and completed a Bachelor of Music, University of Auckland in 2004. Over the past five years his works have featured in a variety of exhibition settings and spaces in New Zealand, and overseas. Through image making Merrick seeks to convey perspectives that form a basis for a type of visual thinking, underpinned by explorations into cultural experience, speculative spaces, and myth. The resulting work attempts to further hack and refract historical and contemporary paradigms, via unique and fragmented view-points filtered through Merrick’s European, Tongan, and Maori heritage.
A:Your work explores cultural experience and myth, how does that manifest itself in your art?
KM: The visual and conceptual language that is present in my work often references narratives from a variety of epochs and cultures. These narratives are often fragmented and not immediately apparent in any visual content, but are a point of lift off for exploration into a reflective space or thematic framework.Through intuitive approaches to image making I am visually making sense and non-sense of the physical, digital, and spiritual worlds around me, the borders of which are rapidly dissolving.
A:Who or what are you most influenced by?
KM: Part of the problem is I’m a collector and hoarder, a border which is also dissolving, but a problem that is under control at the moment. I’m into books, comics, animation, music, films…so there’s a bunch of influence in there. I see creative value in so many people and places. More often than not I’m influenced by the people I know and the awesome things they make and do.
A:You work across a variety of media, but many are monochrome, tell us about this choice.
KM: I often work in series, and recently have been making work that evolves out of a defined limitation or parameter. The choice to use a monochrome approach for the kind of work I’m making at the moment is partly a response to the surfaces I’m using, ideas surrounding materiality, and kinds of visual material I loosely reference when making the work, such as Paleolithic cave paintings, Maori and Pacific patterns, and black and white comics. I also made a conscious decision to pare back my painting approach and look to develop my approaches in drawing, limiting myself to a solvent based ink that I work with directly on unstretched salvaged canvas.
A:Where do you find the inspiration for your work?
KM: I’m big fan of visual research, and I enjoy looking at the work of other people from a range of disciplines, whether it be in person or online. There is such a wealth of inspirational material available to people today, sometimes overwhelmingly so. In saying that Sturgeon’s law is probably exponentially in effect with the rate of information doubling. I often take it for granted that I can dial up inspirational material at a touch, almost anywhere, anytime. Although I’m not overly reliant on technology to inspire me, it’s incredible to think that a smartphone or tablet can act like a prosthetic memory, storing information you never knew you knew! I might not even know the name of a particular artist, artwork, movement etc, but the fact I can describe visual ideas through language is often going to yield inspirational results that expands my awareness of material that I might not have otherwise stumbled upon.
A: What do you feel is your greatest achievement to date with your work?
KM: Recently I completed a body of work for my first solo exhibition Loops & Lines at Whitespace Contemporary Art, Auckland, New Zealand. It’s probably my most cohesive series of work to date, and it was increasingly tough to work within the limitations of a set dimension, scale, and a monochromatic palette over the past six months. I have got a whole new appreciation for colour.
A: Where do you see your work going in the future?
KM: I hope to be able to keep moving forward with my studio practice and continue to learn and work creatively with other people in a variety of contexts. I’m currently working on a series of small animation clips, some ideas for a self published comic book, and teaching myself the basics of character concept design as projects that sit alongside my studio practice, it would be great to further develop these areas of interest into the future.
If you would like to see more of Kenneth Merrick’s work, please see his current and upcoming shows:
Loops & Lines 27 January – 15 February 2015 Whitespace Contemporary Art, Auckland, New Zealand.
Pacific Materiality 4 – 28 March 2015 Studio One Toi Tū, Auckland, New Zealand.
Please visit his website: kenneth00merrick.wordpress.com
Pick up a copy of Aesthetica issue 63 to see the artist’s listing www.aestheticamagazine.com/shop
1. 8attern Recognition, ink on salvaged canvas, 2015, 1580 x 1240 mm
2. The Cloud 9, ink on salvaged canvas, 2015, 1580 x 1240 mm