Margaret Marchant

Margaret Miller-Marchant is a multimedia artist working mainly in oil paint, mixed-media, and sculpture. She is inspired by nature and technology, music and energy, plant life and biology. Margaret's process includes taking natural and found materials and incorporating these materials into sculpture, collage, or into paintings by observation or subconscious absorption, where her work takes on an abstracted and mythological character, as it is heavily influenced and forged by her imagination, and patterns she has identified within nature, and within stories and legends. Margaret also takes inspiration from the relationship between natural and artificial spaces.

Spending her childhood in Toronto with a creative family and artistic mother, she has always seen art making, and making in general, to be an integral part of ones’ life, and having so many creative individuals in her family has led her to make the choice to pursue this as a lifestyle and career choice. Growing up in a multicultural city and then moving through the GTA and into northern Ontario, the rural life greatly opened her mind during childhood, where she believes her creativity incubated and developed.

Concerning arts education, Margaret completed her high school diploma from an art high school, a certificate in Art Fundamentals at Sheridan College, and is now studying to get her BFA from OCAD University.

Picture of artist Margaret Marchant

What did you want to be when you were growing up? And when did you first realize you wanted to be an artist?
When I was growing up, I wanted to be a scientist. I maintained an interest in science, believing I might pursue a career in forensics or biology. I was always doing experiments with things like slime or play dough, mixing paints to look like chemical or bodily fluids. I realized I wanted to be an artist around the age of 18, when I saw how deep I had ventured into this very internal world of feeling, observation and inspiration, wherein I began to realize these things I found so beautiful and sacred should be composed into something palpable and real, and when I began to understand what that meant, and to share it with others as a way of communication, and thus I also began to realize that science was too strict, rational and limiting to go any further with it, but in away, found I could always have it with me while I was doing my art as a sort of blueprint or reference.

Are there any specific artists or movements that have influenced your work?
I am inspired by many artists. When I began to become very interested in art, I was inspired by Edward Povey, a contemporary artist who has a background in psychology, as I was very into psychology at the time. I am also a big fan of abstraction, and automatism, as I enjoy the process of spontaneous and intuitive art making. I find drawing from the subconscious is a lot more creatively gratifying, as it often forces us to look beyond rationality, like it is the soul layer of something, sitting beneath its logical, concrete form. I also enjoy illustration and take inspiration from artists such as contemporary Illustrator Katie Scott, who makes botanical illustrations combined with animal, including human, anatomy.

How and where do you find inspiration on a regular basis?
I find inspiration from nature, from leaf patterns and decaying material, atmospheric mist, old rocks, and fossils. I love the process of disintegration and how things look broken but beautiful. I love anything delicate and fragile looking, but which still seems to have an unbreakable and everlasting quality: Insect wings, lace, sinew, the lacquer of shells. I am often inspired, as well, from emotional pain, and seeing pain in society, in the people I know, and again viewing this layered soul and the protective armor we all must wear.

What does your process look like from ideation to completion?
Collecting materials from nature, studying them, or having them around me or imagining them. Working from mistakes and what I see happening on the canvas or in the sculpture, letting the material guide the process.

What emotions or thoughts do you wish to spark in viewers?
Feelings of catharsis, emptiness, majesty, and whimsy. I would love to evoke the mysticism of nature and the ethereal component of everyday objects and environments, and how we live within this world of tragedy and harmony and how we all have that internalized within ourselves.

How has your practice or style changed over time?
I used to paint portraits and study images I found in books or objects I found in my home. I then moved towards art making led by intuition, where this act of studying became redundant and began to feel too restrictive. I am now forming a balance between combining the tangible and rational and intangible and intuitive.

What is a common misconception that people have about artists or the art world?
That they are narcissistic, conceited, and too involved in their work to love others, or live a humble life with family and friends and still have success with their creativity and passion. Perhaps this misconception is true of some individuals, but I think this character type can be found across all occupations and ways of life.