Getting to Know: Maria Merridan | Coded Storm

Throughout April The Trove featured Coded Storm‘s artist and illustrator Maria Merridan – read our Q&A with Maria to find out more about her love of art since childhood, the themes which she is inspired by, her signature piece which has evolved into the brand for her commercial work, and her involvement with art groups across both Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire.

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'Arctic Fox' by Maria Merridan

(Image by Maria Merridan – Arctic Fox)

Tell me a little about you and how you became an artist.

Looking back on my childhood, I have strong, positive memories of drawing with my sister Clare. I remember admiring her drawing style and trying hard to copy every detail! I can also recall hours spent sketching my hand-reared ducks! At school, art was a favourite subject and I also loved biology! I liked the idea of becoming a zoologist. However, whilst my biology was good my maths was not quite to the same standard! I was mostly recognised at school for my artistic ability so decided to concentrate on the arts rather than the sciences. When I started my Foundation Course in Art and Design at St Albans College of Art I realised that I had made the right decision, for the first time I really felt understood, accepted and at home. I went on from St Albans to study Illustration at Kent Institute of Art and Design.

Describe your style in 5 words.

Striking, atmospheric, detailed, layered, personal.

Maria Merridan

(Image by Maria Merridan)

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

The following themes generally inspire my work: science, natural history, navigation, weather and journeys.

Could you tell me a little more about one of your pieces?

The artwork I have selected is called ‘Coded Storm’ and this is the signature image for my commercial work of the same title. The work is a relief lino print, black ink on grey paper with hand-painted highlights. The image depicts an albatross flying over a stormy sea; on closer inspection the viewer will observe that the sea has been created using morse code.

'Coded Storm' by Maria Merridan

(Image by Maria Merridan – Coded Storm)

My solo trip around the world inspired this work. I visited a Royal Albatross colony on the Otago Peninsula in New Zealand and saw these amazing creatures first-hand. Birds frequently appear in my work; I am fascinated by their flight, behaviour and migration patterns. I have used the albatross as a symbol of my solitary journey, the storm represents the strong emotions I felt whilst travelling and the coded sea is a reminder that the work carries hidden meaning.

How do you keep yourself informed about what is going on within the art world, in Cambridgeshire and further afield?

Social media, such as Twitter is my main source of information about the art world. I am able to follow up links and then read in more detail subjects that interest me. I also visit galleries and exhibitions frequently. I feel I am more up to date than ever before, although this sometimes means I can feel quite overwhelmed with so much information!  I am a member of Cambridge Creative Network and the Neotists which is great way to find out about current art projects and opportunities. I live near the Cambridgeshire/Bedfordshire border so I also attend networking meetings held by Creative Bedfordshire and Bedford Creative Arts.

Maria Merridan

(Image by Maria Merridan)

Origami Stars - Coded Storm

(Image by Maria Merridan)

Are you a member of any local art groups?

In January, I was fortunate to have one piece of work selected for an exhibition organised by the art collective Circus of Illustration. I regularly attend the Curwen Print Study Centre to print during the Open Access days and I’m a part-time Lecturer in Art and Design at a local FE college.

Where can people find your work?

This month I will have two prints displayed at Wood End Gallery (Pertenhall, MK44 2AS). I am currently creating artwork in collaboration with an Astrophysicist for ‘Creative Reactions’ which is part of Cambridge’s Pint of Science Festival, 23rd-25th May 2016. Coded Storm prints are for sale on Etsy, at the ‘Eclectic Mix Art Pop-Up’ events at Hot Numbers Coffee (Gwydir Street, Cambridge) and the Four Seasons Market (Potton, Bedfordshire).

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Thank you to Maria for giving us an insight into your work! If you would like to keep up to date with what Maria is up to then do head over and follow her on Twitter. You can also see more of her Coded Storm work on Twitter and Facebook. We feature a different local artist, designer or maker every month – to take a look at previous Q&As then click here or to find out about becoming a feature then do contact us, we would love to get to know you and your work.

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