Julian Meagher's delicate oil paintings are often based around masculine rituals and symbols, such as disembodied heads of sporting heroes and old beer bottles found by divers in Sydney Harbour. Meagher's interest in both personal and collective inherited history including links to our national identity, is evident in much of his subject matter.
In his latest show 'Everybody talk in their sleep' Meagher celebrates the infamous goon bag, long ago seared into our national psyche almost as a rite of passage. Our memories lie trapped within the endless reflections and refractions of its surface. His paintings whimsically reference Warhol's Silver Clouds work, as well as Christo's wrappings as a form of revelation through concealment. Meagher states too that he has been disappointed by Sydney's recent lock out laws that have amputated much of the important late night cultural landscape of the city, his work 'Article 19' directly referencing our right to freedom of expression.
In 2009 and 2012 he was the recipient of the New Work Grant from the Australia Council of the Arts. He has been a finalist multiple times in the Doug Moran Portrait Prize, the Salon des Refuses, the Metro Art Prize and the Blake Prize for Religious Art. He was been a finalist in the Art Gallery of New South Wales' Archibald Prize in 2014 and 2015, the Wynne Prize in 2015 and the Gold Award in 2016.
Julian Meagher uses art to make sense of the world, charging his romantic compositions with difficult questions about masculinity, mortality and our nation’s self-image. His works speak to physical and social landscapes of Australia, the histories we inherit and how we reconcile our own place in those legacies as we move forward. Recently he became a parent, a development that has shifted his contemplations on legacy to more immediate matters. Experiencing life through the wonderous eyes of his children has given him pause – and a pensive new outlook that has also altered his relationship to painting.
His already sparse landscapes are now pared even further back, fading out to ambiguous colour fields. Less didactic and more lyrical than earlier works, they eschew representation in favour of evocations of moments – light dwindling through a window, a child’s laugh, storms out to sea. Viewed alongside his intimately-scaled portraits, they hint at the tension this new father feels – delighting in his children’s innocence, while knowing they’ve arrived into a world that’s never felt so uncertain. They suggest that while Meagher’s concern for the future remains, he has a renewed appreciation of what it’s all for.
Julian Meagher has exhibited widely throughout Australia and internationally. A multiple time finalist in the Archibald Prize (2018, 2015, 2014) and Salon Des Refuses (2018, 2012, 2010, 2009, 2003), his work has also been recognised in the Glover Award (2019), Paddington Art Prize (2018), Shirley Hannan National Portrait Award (2017, 2016), Mosman Art Prize (2013), Doug Moran Portrait Prize (2012, 2009), Metro Art Prize (2012, 2011, 2010, 2009), Black Swan Prize for Portraiture (2010) and the Blake Prize (2009). Selected for the invitation-only Gold Award at Rockhampton Art Gallery, he was the recipient of the Australia Council for the Arts New Work Grant in 2012 and 2009.
Born 1978, Sydney
Lives and works in Sydney
Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery, University of New South Wales
Portrait Painting at Charles H Cecil Studios, Florence, Italy
Julian Ashton Art School, Sydney
Edwina Corlette Gallery, Brisbane (forthcoming)
'The Space into Bicheno II', Olsen Gallery, Sydney
'The Space into Bicheno I', Sydney Contemporary Art Fair, presented by Olsen Gallery, Sydney
'The Space Between Here and There', Yavuz Gallery, Singapore
Art has always been a vehicle for social dialogue, and a window into current political issues. When Sydney artist Julian Meagher met former professional soccer player, commentator and human rights advocate Craig ‘Fozzy’ Foster AM, he was inspired.
A few years ago, Sydney-based artist Julian Meagher welcomed the birth of his son and found himself working more instinctively. ‘I think I’m making better works because I am taking a lot more risks, I make so many more bad paintings that end up in the bin now than I used to,’ he comments.
When his daughter was born eight months ago, he went through a whole new level of sleep deprivation and heartbreak, with their little girl suffering reflux for six months. ‘Sleepwalking’ channels this energy, exploring the space between altered states, the subconscious and dreaming.
Alongside ultra-romantic pink and blue landscapes, complete with rainbows, built through active painting, raw brushstrokes and delicate fades, Meagher presents his sleeping family. The small and intimate portraits connect with the large glitchy, idyllic landscapes. ‘I’m trying to make sense of the complex human existence through the power and beauty of nature,’ he adds, ‘I feel like a rainbow next to a little sleeping baby is what we need right now … A hope that things will get better on both a personal and collective level.’
Meagher’s palette is deliberately muted, soft, subtle. He says, ‘I think painting is only good if you’re true to yourself. Painting is a kind of meditation for me in a way; I want the end result to slow down my breath rate.’
To construct his portraits and colour fields – which can be read as landscapes, abstracted, or the sky out of his studio window – Meagher applies thin layers and begins to remove the colour as it starts to dry. Working against the drying time of the paint stops the artist from ‘overcooking’ them. By revealing the linen below, the canvases hold luminosity, adding a watercolour effect evocative of the ocean-inspired landscapes. ‘We’ve all seen those storms out to sea; it’s in our collective consciousness,’ he explains, ‘most can associate strong memories and rites of passage with these coastline images.’
After receiving a record-breaking 482 entries this year and careful deliberation from the judges, the Glover Prize has announced its 42 finalists for 2019. These finalists represent the Judges’ selection of the best artworks of the Tasmanian landscape, chosen from the 482 entrants coming from every Australian state and territory, as well as a number of submissions from New Zealand, Italy, and the United Kingdom. These 42 artworks will be on display at the Glover Prize Exhibition at Falls Park Pavilion in Evandale, Tasmania during March this year.
The judges for the Glover Prize 2019 are Art Fairs Australia CEO and director, Barry Keldoulis; Sydney artist Joan Ross; and Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) director, Janet Carding. The judges next task is to carefully narrow down the 42 finalists to choose the winner of the $50,000 cash prize. After its display at the exhibition, the John Glover Society Inc. will acquire the winning artwork for its collection.
Julian Meagher's work Democratic Mountain has been selected as one of the finalists. The exhibition commences on the March long-weekend, running from Saturday the 9th of March, 2019 and continuing until the end of the following weekend on Sunday the 17th of March, 2019, at the historic Falls Park Pavilion in Evandale.
The King’s Art Prize is a $20,000 acquisitive award presented to the best contemporary artwork created by an artist resident in Australia and represented by a commercial gallery, supporting both the artists and the fine arts industry. Entry is by invitation only and the finalists are selected by an appointed Art Prize panel.
Congratulations to Julian Meagher who is a finalist in the Paddington Art Prize 2018.
The Paddington Art Prize is a $30,000 National acquisitive prize, awarded annually for a painting inspired by the Australian landscape. The prize encourages the interpretation of the landscape as a significant contemporary genre, its long tradition in Australian painting as a key contributor to our national ethos, and is a positive initiative in private patronage of the arts in Australia.
Of his entry 'Wapengo Lake Tideline', Julian says
I wanted this work to chase the spontaneity and freedom of a watercolour. It was painted at a time of great change just before my son was born. A time of giving in to forces far greater than me, of tides, cycles and connection to country.
The Salon des Refusés was initiated by the S.H.Ervin Gallery in 1992 in response to the large number of works entered into the Archibald Prize which were not selected for display in the official exhibition. The Archibald Prize is one of Australia’s most high profile and respected awards which attracts hundreds of entries each year and the S.H. Ervin Gallery’s ‘alternative’ selection has become a much anticipated feature of the Sydney art scene.
Julian Meagher's work 'Wapengo #1' was selected in 2018. Wapengo #1 is from a series painted after a recent residency on the Sapphire Coast where Meagher spent a month with his pregnant wife Beejal in Mimosa Rocks National Park. He says:
‘I wanted these oil paintings to chase the spontaneity and freedom of a watercolour. They are unashamedly romantic, painted at a time of great change just before my son was born. A time of giving in to forces far greater than me, of tides, cycles and connection to country.’
Julian Meagher is a finalist in the Art Gallery of New South Wales' Archibald prize, the most prestigious portrait prize in Australia. His work is of Man Booker prize recipient Richard Flanagan. Meagher says:
'Richard Flanagan’s novels are published in 42 countries and have received numerous honours and awards, including the 2002 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the 2014 Man Booker Prize and the 2016 Athens Prize for Literature.
‘He is one of my favourite novelists but it is his writing and interviews on literature, the environment, art and politics that particularly make him one of Australia’s most important voices,’ says Julian Meagher. ‘Herb, Richard’s writing partner, was pretty insistent that he be included in the painting.’
Born in 1978 in Sydney, Meagher still lives and works there. This is his third time in the Archibald Prize. He has also been a Wynne finalist.
The artist-collector relationship has existed for millennia, manifesting in multiple forms with varying outcomes. During the Renaissance, the patronage of the Medici family enabled Raphael and Leonardo DaVinci to focus solely on art. Just outside Melbourne, during the mid twentieth century, at their home Heidi, John and Sunday Reed invited a young Sidney Nolan inside their world, creating a consummate creative union. In Sydney, Judith Nielsen has helped usher contemporary Chinese artists from emerging to legendary status. Each partnership has yielded significant outputs reverberating throughout different cultures.
5X5 recognizes the cultural significance of these types of pairings by exploring the trajectories of five artists and their parallel collector relationships:
Marking a twenty-five-year relationship, artist Julian Meagher and collector James Emmett have the longest standing association of all the collector-artist pairings showcased in 5X5. Their journey begins when they went to high school together. The pair would become closer friends when Emmett’s partner, Peter Wilson commissioned Meagher to paint Emmett’s portrait during their university years (included in this exhibition).
The works included in this exhibition span the entire period of the Emmett and Meagher’s art collecting/ art making histories. Interestingly, Meagher admits that some of these earlier works are no longer representative
of his current practice, revealing the temporal nature of collecting. Often new acquisitions redefine the collection or an artist’s output as a whole by casting new light on past works or acquisitions and suggesting possible directions for the future. Nevertheless, this relationship timestamps their shared experiences as they developed into their adult selves.
For Sydney artist Julian Meagher, 'Inlet/Outlet' is a new type of beast.
Not so much in its challenge to Australia’s contemporary cultural identity (something he is largely known and regarded for), but for translating those ideals to landscape works inspired by the far South Coast of New South Wales Australia. The result, a 21-piece exhibition at the Bega Valley Regional Gallery, chases freedom, the tide and slow looking. The effect on him, profound as it may be, is outlined in our interview below.
Julian Meagher's three week residency at the Myer House at Blithry Inlet on the south coast of New South Wales and the resultant solo exhibition at Bega Regional Gallery is profiled on the Artist Profile blog.
'Sydney artist Julian Meagher's latest exhibition 'Inlet Outlet' is the fruit of a 2017 residency with Bega Valley Regional Gallery (BVRG). A pilot project for a long-term partnership between the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and BVRG, the inaugural residency signals 'another key step in the development of the arts in the region and provides the opportunity for visual artists to draw from the unique natural environment of the local region, connect with regional communities and expand their practice outside of metropolitan studios', says BVRG Director Iain Dawson.'
In April 2017 Bega Valley Regional Gallery welcomed prominent Sydney artist Julian Meagher as inaugural artist in residence. A pilot project for a long term partnership between the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the BVRG, the residency offered the opportunity for visual artists to draw from the unique natural environment of the local region, whilst connecting with regional communities and expanding their practice outside of metropolitan studios.
Meagher spent time at the beautiful Sir Roy Grounds-designed Myer House set on Bithry Inlet in the pristine Mimosa Rocks National Park and Inlet Outlet showcases the artistic fruits of that stay.
Byron Bay's Byron at Byron Hotel recently completed a renovation which included a suite of works by Julian Meagher.
Designed by well known interior designer Luchetti Krelle, art takes pride of place within the newly renovated walls, with finalist of the 2015 Archibald Prize, Julian Meagher commissioned to paint a series of still life paintings featuring Australian natives for the hotel.
Congratulations to Julian Meagher and Vipoo Srivilasa for being finalists of the 2017 National Still Life Award at Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery.
The acquisitive Award offers a major award of $20,000 as well as a People’s Choice Award of $5,000. This years' judge is Lisa Slade, Assistant Director of Artistic Programs at Art Gallery of South Australia.
Hosted by the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA) in Sydney on 18 August, you now have the chance to learn life drawing from some of the best in the business, with a one-off class led by Archibald Prize finalists.
Supporting NAVA, the 15-person only event will see past Archibald finalists Jasper Knight, Julian Meagher, Dean Brown and Oliver Watts give out tips via way of a life drawing class, discuss their work and also tour their Darlinghurst studio.
“One of the things I like most about life drawing is the communal nature of it. Oliver, Jasper and I spent many of our teenage years together at life drawing classes. I'm looking forward to getting the band back together! Art can be a lonely pursuit so it is magical when you can bounce ideas and create work alongside your peers. NAVA plays a key role in our community and I think it is fitting to be able to support it in this way,” says Julian Meagher, who was selected as a 2015 Archibald finalist for his Daniel Johns portrait.
The Sunshine Coast Art Prize is a national contemporary acquisitive award presented by Sunshine Coast Council. The Award is open to any artist who is an Australian resident, working in a 2D medium.
Forty finalists have been selected for an exhibition at the Caloundra Regional Gallery and the winning work will be added to the Sunshine Coast Art Collection.
Angela Goddard is the judge for the Sunshine Coast Prize 2017. Angela is the Director of Griffith Artworks, responsible for the Griffith University Art Collection and the Griffith University Art Gallery, Brisbane. Angela was previously the Curator of Australian Art at the Queensland Art Gallery I Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA). Winners announced 31 August.
Image: Julian Meagher | The Ashes Fall - The Wine Spills | 2016 | oil on linen | 152 x 122 cm
Museums & Galleries of New South Wales is delighted to announce five residencies have been awarded through the Artist or Curator Residency Program for 2017. Generously supported by the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund, each residency of $11,250 will provide artists and curators the space and time to immerse themselves in a unique place, community or collection within a regional gallery, boosting their creative process.
Bega Valley Regional Gallery, New South Wales
In partnership with the National Parks and Wildlife Services, Bega Valley Regional Gallery will host contemporary painter Julian Meagher on a month long residency within the south east NSW region. Over the month long residency Julian will deliver three workshops and one masterclass.
Julian Meagher has been selected as a finalist for the Shirley Hannan Bega Portrait Prize at the Bega Valley Regional Gallery. The prize is a $50,000 non-acquisitive award for realistic portraiture. The winner will be announced by the judge Dr. Christopher Chapman, Senior Curator at the National Portrait Gallery, Friday 17 June.
Congratulations to Julian Meagher who has been selected as a finalist in the 2016 Gold Award at Rockhampton Art Gallery. The Gold Award is a national invitation painting award with an acquisitive cash prize of $50,000 made possible through a generous bequest from the Estate of Moya Gold. The winning artist will be announced by Chris Saines, Director Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art.
The exhibition is current from 23 July – 4 September 2016.
Featured in the November issue of Art Guide Australia, Sarah Werkmeister writes of Julian's current show,
"It’s fair to say that Australia has a rocky history. Julian Meagher’s new exhibition, Alone in the Sun, interrogates the scars left behind, in both the national consciousness and in the landscape itself, with a deft poeticism...
Meagher’s trademark bottles and flora feature in the show as well, making reference not only to the artefact – he worked with a scuba diver to source bottles from Sydney Harbour and scoured op shops too – but also to the need to drink to deal with hardship. Instead of imbuing the typical Australian masculinity onto notions of drinking, the delicacy and translucency of the paint allude to the passing of time through an object, speaking to an understanding of human nature and the way it influences our psychic environment.
Meagher seems to suggest that we’re all implicated in Australia’s scars and that the only way to move forward is to start by looking back."
Julian Meagher's portrait of superstar National Rugby League player Johnathan Thurston is on the cover of the October issue for Rugby League Player Magazine. Meagher was a finalist in the 2015 Archibald Prize with his portrait of Daniel Johns. The Thurston portrait is part of a suite of works from the 'Code' series which shines a light on the vulnerability of some of Australia's biggest football heroes, dramatising the precarious fragility in each man’s isolated facial expression.
Julian Meagher's solo exhibition 'Alone in the Sun' is on from 3 - 27 November 2015.
We are pleased to announce that Julian is a semi-finalist with his portrait Paul Ryan for the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize. Julian was also a finalist with his work Floating In A Darkened Sky for the Eutick Memorial Still Life Award (EMSLA) at Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery.
Julian will be exhibiting new works for Alone in the Sun at Edwina Corlette Gallery, November 3 - 21, 2015. This series of new work further investigates how our past inhabits our present. 'As I have grown older I have become interested in the concept of both collective and personal notions of inherited history,' he says.
In one of life’s more curious turns, I ended up owning a cocktail bar about six years ago. Me, the chick with no hospitality experience, who’d never waited tables, never pulled a beer and didn’t knowthe difference between an ale and a lager, was suddenly having to work out how to change a beer keg and what the hell people meant when they asked for a “CC and dry.” To say it was a steep learning curve is an understatement. It was a world away from my previous life in writing and interior design.But the patrons and Isurvived the rocky start and now its almost second nature to me. I’ve even won awards for my espresso martinis – go figure!
Howeverowning a bar, even now that I’m rarely actually the one serving drinks, is something that has never sat easily with me. On a daily basis I rely on the…
Julian Meagher has been commissioned by Belvoir St Theatre in Sydney to bring the Company’s actors to life with a suite of drawings for their 2015 catalogue. Belvoir’s position as one of Australia’s most innovative and acclaimed theatre companies has been determined by such landmark productions as The Wild Duck, The Diary of a Madman, The Blind Giant is Dancing, The Book of Everything, Cloudstreet, Measure for Measure, Keating!, Parramatta Girls, Exit the King, The Alchemist, Hamlet, Waiting for Godot, The Sapphires, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Stuff Happens and Medea.
When Julian Meagher first met John Waters ‘He was rehearsing Looking Through A Glass Onion with Stewart, my girlfriend’s father, in his lounge room. They were making a lot of noise, laughing and playing Norwegian Wood. It was great to meet the man I had watched on Play School, now far removed from Big Ted’.
John Waters is an English film, theatre and television actor best known in Australia, which he’s called home since 1968. Meagher says ‘I wanted to paint John in a puffy shirt, both as a nod to his theatrical profession and to re-imagine him as a kind of colonial character. ‘He has such a strong face, which really suited my painting style. It was my hope to capture a complex expression. Rather than looking back at the viewer, he is engaged with something outside our understanding’.
Born in Sydney in 1978, Meagher left work as a medical doctor nine years ago to paint full time and has exhibited regularly since then both locally and internationally. He studied the Atelier method in Florence, Italy. He has been a finalist five times in the Salon Des Refuses. He was a finalist in the Doug Moran Portrait Prize in 2009 and 2012, as well as in the Metro Art Prize and Blake Prize for Religious Art.
18 October 2022 – 5 November 2022 ‘Light Matter’featuring Julian Meagher & Marisa Purcell