Minna Gilligan is one my favourite artists and she was kind enough to answer some questions for me to help me with a school project. Her words are beautiful and I think you should read them.
Can you describe your art?
Visually, my work is a playground of colour. I focus on the honesty and immediacy of texta and paint mark making to form these like weird psychedelic spaces where I can play with the slipperiness of time. I do this via collage which allows me to quickly combine the seventies and the fifties and now which creates these 'time portal' works, that I like to think of as 'hybrid time periods'. I sound like a mad scientist when I describe my art.
Which artists influence you and why?
I love lots of artists but at the moment I'm really influenced by Helen Frankenthaler because of the slipperiness in her work - the precariousness of it. I love Pippilotti Rist because her work is so visceral and her colour pallette is infinitely attractive to me. I am really influenced by people like Mick Jagger and Madonna and Leonard Cohen because of the poignancy of their lyrics and entire existence. I love how they resonate with the masses.
Can you describe the work you do for Rookie?
The work I do for Rookie varies but my main job is my weekly diary posts, which is a collage that sort of visually maps my week. Most of the time I feel like I make collages with such weird images that they're really otherworldly and people don't relate to them. I'd love to be able to like write a paragraph to accompany the collages to justify them or something but I guess they would lose their dreaminess and ambiguity with that. I often try to be more literal with them but it never translates. For Rookie I also do illustrations for articles and interviews. I got to do one for John Waters which was really cool!
Does the concept of childhood influence you in your work?
I'm really into the idea of drawing/painting totally absentmindedly, and drawing/painting entirely without preconceived notions of what is going to eventuate. I love children's drawings, the immediacy of them and how what is drawn appears to be directly what filters from the mind.
Does pop culture influence your work? If so can you give any examples?
I sort of get confused with what Pop culture is, because I'm so engrossed in what Pop culture was in the 50s 60s and 70s or something. And Pop culture goes stale easily because it's inescapable, if that makes any sense - like it gets too much air. If Pop culture now is Katy Perry then I'm not interested. I love Lana Del Rey though, and I suppose I've listened to her music while drawing and stuff so that is a current pop culture influence I guess. 'Stale pop culture' from the 1920s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and even 90s is a major influence for me. I like to think I'm Andy Warhol when he was a sickly child in bed and cut out pictures from magazines and listened to the radio and collected signed photos of Shirley Temple and stuff.
Do you feel there is a relationship between gender identity and pop culture?
If so does this influence your work?
I suppose there is, yes. I think there is a relationship between most things and pop culture. We mirror the world we live in, but I always think then that the world we live in also mirrors us.
Can you explain your use of mark making?
This goes hand in hand with the childhood thing. I love how a child kind of thinks in terms of filling the space rather than what it is being filled with. Like using a really small texta to colour in a really large area. There is an awkwardness in my mark making that I am attracted to. This comes from the 'not really thinking about it' I guess.
Can you explain your use of colour?
I am inexplicably attracted to colour. I tend to think in terms of 'more is more', a philosophy which is pretty evident in my work. I just use colour like it's going out of style. It's an intuitive thing, which I love.
A great deal of your art work uses vintage imagery, does the idea of nostalgia play a part in your work?
I think a lot about this idea of nostalgia because people always bring it up in regards to my work. It's weird, because generally nostalgia is a person longing back to their childhood, or a period of time they experienced which due to the magic of distance seems comparatively better and more romantic than the present. I am nostalgic for periods of time I did not experience. I love this strangeness. I am nostalgic for something I never knew in reality. It is a misplaced nostalgia. The imagery I use to me doesn't appear 'vintage' but just as people and places and events I have a fondness for, and share some sort of inexplicable affinity with.
Can you explain the placement of nature in your art?
I am attracted to imagery with forests and trees and particularly flowers. I think this is because my Mum is a florist and my Dad is a garden designer. I grew up with this imagery and maybe that is a form of 'true nostalgia' in my work. I love the opulence of flowers, and the strength they convey in their femininity.
You use collage in your work, can you explain why this is?
I use collage to create hybrid time periods. It is my way/the only way I can think of to making time travel a reality.
I feel that there is a musical element to your paintings; do any particular bands inspire your art?
In the words of Russell from Almost Famous: "I dig music" - in a major way. My taste is pretty awkward, kind of like my collages. I will listen to like ragtime stuff then Madonna then Glen Campbell then Joni Mitchell... I am in love with Leonard Cohen, Mick Jagger, Gene Wilder (Wait he's not a musician. But he does sing in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory). Art and music are the same thing to me. I recently designed an album cover which was really cool, because it is a job that incorporates these two loves.
Does feminism influence your work? If so can you give any examples?
It's funny because I never really thought about feminism or about myself as a feminist before Rookie. I started getting these comments on my blog like "I'm so happy there's another active feminist living in Melbourne" and stuff and I was kind of like "Huh?" Because I'd never talked about feminism on my blog or in my work really or anything. It is sort of just who I am, I am an 'independent woman' who writes and makes zines and paints and draws and stuff which doesn't necessarily make me a feminist just cos' I'm a girl y'know! That said, obviously I'm like Marcia Brady and super into female liberation. I just didn't get why it was kind of assumed that's what my work was about or something. I'm just bein' myself and if that involves a bit of Spice Girl girl power, so be it, but it's not my guiding light and underlying message.
Does gender identity influence your work? If so can you give any examples?
I don't really think specifically about being a woman artist. I suppose I use images of women in my collages because I identify with them/probably want their outfits. I don't exclusively use images of women though, I use pictures of men too and honestly I probably want their outfits as well.
Are there any particular blogs that influence and inspire you?
I mostly look at the blogs of my friends and 'colleagues'. Lots of my friends from art school and beyond have blogs that I keep updated with: www.cheralyn-lim.blogspot.com, www.gonzalothe3rd.blogspot.com and www.yaleiwang1990.blogspot.com.
Can you tell me a bit about The Ardorous and the work you do for them?
The Ardorous is an artist collective founded by Toronto based photographer Petra Collins - who also works at Rookie. I love it because basically all of us want to live in the seventies or something. I don't so much do work 'for' the Ardorous - but I make what I would be making anyway and then I compile some stuff into a series that can be posted on there. I think of it as a gallery space.
Does fashion influence your work? If so can you give any examples?
Fashion has been my number 2 behind art for a very long time. I think about clothes a lot, I think about outfits I could put together, about shoes, about how I could rationalize spending a hideous amount of money on a dress... I am really materialistic in that sense. With fashion and clothes I find it really hard to be satisfied though so as soon as I spend the hideous amount of money on a dress I'll wear it once and retire it to the back of my wardrobe. Fashion doesn't influence my work. I think my work influences my fashion. With my outfits I try to play out fantasies of living in the 60s or whatever, the fantasies the begun in my work.
Can you tell me about your zine ‘Praying 4 u’?
I made the Praying 4 u series about two years ago now. It was about flawed optimism. I write a lot of poetry so it had poems and scribble drawings on graph paper and collage and stuff. I found them immensely enjoyable to make. My latest Zine is entirely consisting of poetry I wrote and is called 'A Million Pieces Take A Long Time To Put Together'. I think Praying 4 u is over. R.I.P.
Can you describe your self portrait works?They're sort of just photos of me being silly in different outfits. It's just a way that I can more obviously insert myself into my work I guess, a way for me to live out my seventies fantasies.