Earlier this month we met up with Meg Fatharly at Tom's Cottage near Port Isaac. Here she created a collage of Tom's Cottage and we talked all things making and collaging: from the practical how-to's to actually what it's like living and working as a creative.
How did you become an artist? Was there an interest in art at home?
I think the word ‘artist’ has a lot of weight behind it. For a long time, I said I was a maker, my reasoning being that I used my hands. Really I think I was just scared of saying "I'm an artist" as it feels like such a commitment but also that dedication is all I know. So I know the question is how did I become an artist but honestly I think I just I am one. By owning that, any fear or perceived judgement goes away.
I've always been encouraged by my family to create in some way, and I think for me it was always a way of expressing an energy and mentality I couldn't contain (hello late ADHD diagnosis). I now take a greater pride in celebrating the fact I use my creativity and art making as a tool for communication. Both my parents and family have always been supportive of my art making but I think growing up it also allowed me to feel seen and heard.
How did you get into collaging? Was there something that initially drew you to it?
I have always collaged in some way and often that was through deconstructing and reconstructing work. By this, I mean the way I work has always been about creating balance or adapting an idea through a fluid process. So if a drawing wasn't working I would introduce a new element or cut it up. I think for me the collaging process is about realising that if an idea isn't working, it's OK to come back to it. It doesn't have to be finished in one go. You are allowed to rework something. Collage for me is the process that allows me to do that. I also love collage because of its accessibility and immediate application. I've always enjoyed piecing fragments together in some way to create a balance and I find that collage offers a space to do that physically with creativity and problem solving.
When you sit down to create a collage do you usually have an idea of what you’re making? Or is it more a process of figuring it out as you go?
I think my work has always been spontaneous and fluid because the idea of a plan always felt like ‘prison’ or if an idea felt forced in my mind it was ‘wrong’. I know I can think in a very black and white way so I'm trying to remember that rigid thinking is something that can hold you back. I guess collage-making for me is a place to explore that grey area between my black and white thinking.
I always tend to work with a starting point whether that is the colour, shape, texture or sometimes reference imagery. But I really enjoy the fact that I don't know what a piece is going to look like at the end. I think that fluid approach is something I'm trying to embrace in other aspects of my life that have nothing to do with art.
What inspires you to create?
I am often inspired by everyday interactions, things I see, conversations I have. By texture, sounds, shapes I see. I think because I see intense detail before the bigger picture this often means I'm looking and taking-in and absorbing in a way that other people perhaps wouldn't. I think this highly detailed approach comes across in my work by focusing on the intensity of a piece or a part of something bigger.
Perhaps being a full-time artist, you can’t rely on inspiration to be productive? How do you walk that line between creativity and work?
Honestly I think I'm still struggling with this and figuring out what being a full time artist actually looks like. I run every aspect of my business and that takes up a large chunk of brain space. Often my thoughts turn to 'will I make money this month' and 'what's an idea that will sell'. It's tricky. I'm navigating a space now where my art often has had to take a backseat. Which is something I've had to grieve because for the longest time my art came before anything else in my life including me.
I remember when I was studying at university, I would use the statement "I am my art". However, I'm learning to rephrase that to something like "I am an artist and I communicate and process through making" as it lessens the grip an expectation of self. Your worth can feel so tied up with your work. You're the one making it, marketing it, selling it. But I think I'll always be figuring out that line between creativity and work.
Do you have favourite pieces of your own work? Pieces you can’t sell for this reason. Or pieces you feel summarise yourself or your practice?
The way I create is often reactive and quick and so I tend to forget what I've made. One of my favourite ways of rediscovering old work is by chance. Rediscovering it is like a past version of myself looking after the present one. Often I come across things that I really needed to see, process, or read in that moment.
I think recently I've been really proud of my writing. And I've been making space for it. for me before anyone else stop I have a book but I've simply labelled words for future me and . When I'm having breakfast or getting into the day, I'll write down something that I'm feeling but I know in times of doubt confidence loss feeling like a fraud I can look back upon and have some clarity.
Do you have any upcoming exhibitions, workshops or news?
I'm currently starting a new series of online workshops encouraging creativity from home. So often people think you need fancy equipment, especially for something like printmaking, but these workshops are designed for everyone, at every level of ability, to use whatever they have at home. I've also just finished up a project with the V&A in London and it's been so exciting to see my collages being presented in a new way.
I've also been writing a lot more and sharing that twice a month as a newsletter on Substack. I've titled it In Progress and use it as a space to explore my processes. You can subscribe and see what I've written so far here.
Why not give collaging a go next time you're on holiday. All you need is paper, scissors, glue and a collection of materials. You could use old magazines, postcards, stamps, fabric off cuts. Paint swatches are especially good when you have a specific colour in mind. If you do collage your Classic stay please share it online and be sure to tag us at @classiccottages. We can't wait to see your creations!