Adelaide designer Margie Kenny’s illustrations at Gallery 1855 are vibrant, charming and yet thought provoking.
Her latest exhibition Connected explores the idea that all creatures and nature are connected and that life is an incredible force.
A childhood spent in the Adelaide Hills impressed on Margie a love for nature and a passion for conserving native habitats and species. Her illustrations aim to capture nature in a way that brings joy to viewers and an awareness of the role we all play in preserving the environment.
Tell us about your artistic background.
I always loved art and design in school, and went on to university to study a Bachelor of Education specialising in Design. I then worked as a graphic designer and illustrator in the areas of health and education, and began teaching design at UniSA. I have exhibited in several group exhibitions, and this is my first solo exhibition.
What is your current exhibition at Gallery 1855, Connected about?
Connected is about how nothing happens in isolation on our planet – all creatures and habitat have an effect on one another. Creatures are so closely connected to their habitat. It’s a celebration of the beauty of nature – from wildlife across the world to a ladybird in the backyard garden. The exhibition also highlights a connection we may not be so proud of – the rapid loss of habitat and wildlife through deforestation to feed our consumption of palm oil in processed food and household products.
Image: Margie Kenny, In the organic garden (ladybird), 2016, hand drawn mixed media digital composite print on cotton rag paper, 52 x 52cm.
Why is the natural world so important to you?
My love of nature goes back to my early childhood growing up surrounded by scrub and native wildlife in the Adelaide Hills. The natural world supports the life of all creatures including humans, and without it we could not survive.
What concerns you about the world we live in?
There is an alarming rate of change in the natural world primarily at the hands of the human race, and I believe as individuals we can have a more positive influence on change. For example, there are critically endangered species losing their habitat and lives through rapid deforestation to make way for palm oil plantations – while we continue to consume palm oil which is hidden in a high percentage of supermarket products and processed food. It can go completely unnoticed to many of us, even to those who are nature lovers.
Image: Margie Kenny, Gardener’s companion, 2016, hand drawn, digital composite print on cotton rag paper, 52 x 52cm.
Where and how do you make your works?
Several of my pieces are detailed and realistic in tone and form and are produced in my studio by hand, using graphite pencil or biro with my own photographs as reference when drawing (e.g. Turning tide, Nature’s fine line and Microclimate).
Some of my most recent pieces (e.g. Habitat and Uncertain future) begin with an idea that is drawn roughly on layout paper then progressed to a final accurate line drawing. These drawings are then scanned onto the computer, and hand drawn/painted colour textures are also scanned and cut to shape and combined with the line work in Photoshop software. The final illustrations are then printed at a high resolution onto cotton rag paper for a high quality finish.
Image: Margie Kenny, Rhythm of life, 2014, hand drawn, digital composite print on cotton rag paper, 51 x 51cm.
What you hope people take away from seeing these works?
I hope the work brings joy and inspiration to the audience, and perhaps a renewed awareness of the role we all play as consumers. Informative bookmarks are available to take home to enjoy and to help identify palm oil in products we buy.
Image: Margie Kenny, Microclimate, 2009, ball point pen on paper, 53 x 53cm.
What are you working on next?
I’d like to further explore the idea of habitat and endangered species, focusing on the concerns but also on the positive work being done in Australia and overseas on rescuing and reintroducing wildlife into habitats. In the process I will also be exploring illustrative styles for my own development as an illustrator.
Connected is a Gallery 1855 exhibition at 2 Haines Road in Tea Tree Gully, from 12 October until 12 November 2016.