Fairy tales, myth & imaginary tales

Megan's exhibition is a stunning blend of narratives from a range of historical, European sources with a surrealistic Victorian Gothic sensibility.

The fairy tales as portrayed in this series are far from the disneyfied song and dance spectacles children grow up with now, and hark back to the original Grimm fairy tales, stories where happy endings are not guaranteed and where dark and forbidding forests come alive with creatures and spells that might do you harm, but also might help you. That uncertainty as to whether these are benevolent or malevolent beings gives these works and edge and encourages the viewer to look again for hints and ideas as to the purpose behind the image.

In first looking at these images I couldn't help but think of Henry James's Turn of the Screw, that classic Gothic horror novel, or the writings of Edgar Allan Poe. The sense of the supernatural, of people who might or might not be ghosts and the definite sense of horror in many of these images really does evoke that sense of unease and uncertainty that the best of the Victorian Gothic writers were able to conjure up.

And yet, these works have a thoroughly modern sensibility, an appeal to the Harry Potter / Games of Thrones generation, and more with ideas drawn from mythology represented in many cultures and the fantastical that fits so easily into any imaginary tale.

With a very refined touch, and simple colour palatte Megan is able to evoke significant emotion in her works. Simple touches of light create shapes and ethereal objects, the viewer is drawn into the works and responds to them based on their own experience and interests. As I thought Henry James, my husband's immediate response was Stephen King. Each of us saw something in these works that spoke to our influences and tastes, and I'm sure each of you will find something that reflects your interests and influences.

Beyond all the Gothic horror though, there is still a sense of fun in these works. An understanding that we can't take the Victorian Gothic sensibility too seriously and that all the dressing up and make believe is a nice bit of escapism and that is all. It is this little wink to the fun and the acknowledgement that these works aren't to be taken terribly seriously that lifts this exhibition. Megan's works are technically highly accomplished and her ability to draw the viewer in and encourage them to reflect on their own emotional response is very powerful, but that little nod and wink to the playful and the fun, the titles that hint at fairy tales you sort of remember, the sideways glance at classic horror fiction and movies, makes this exhibition memorable for all the right reasons.

by Bronwyn Coulston

Shoalhaven City Art Centre and Regional Gallery - March 12 2016