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In Conversation with Minna Gilligan, Artist. Melbourne, Australia.

Minna Gilligan for Sunday Life.

Colourful is an understatement when it comes to Minna Gilligan. Her fashion, art and studio all burst with vibrant hues. Minna's work stole our hearts the minute we laid eyes on it. She brings magazine cut-outs to life in heavenly scrapbook arrangements like no other. Her studio speaks the same language. Packed to the brim with second-hand trinkets and a disco ball collection, she describes her space as a “hoarder’s paradise”. 

Hi Minna! We'd love to know a little bit more about yourself.

I am an artist who works with painting, drawing and collage. I began studying Fine Art at the Victorian College of the Arts straight out of high school in 2009, and I graduated with honours in 2012. I suppose that’s usually when I pinpoint a beginning to my practice – however I’ve been making art with some form of self awareness since I was a teen.


Tell us about your studio space.

My studio space is the second bedroom in our (my partner and I) two bedroom apartment. It’s pretty cosy, but it’s been a godsend having a space at home this year whilst working through various lockdowns. The space, simply put, has a desk, a chair, a window, and then is filled to the brim with materials, knick knacks of various importance… and artworks. The longer I spend working in this space the smaller it gets, as I just continuously bring things in… be that books to cut pictures out of, trinkets from second hand shops, miscellaneous items that I “might use one day”… it’s a hoarders paradise.

Minna Gilligan, Mystery to me, 2017, col

Mystery to me, 2017, acrylic and collage on paper. Courtesy the artist and Daine Singer Gallery. 

Minna Gilligan, For the time being, 2017

For the time being, 2017, acrylic and collage on paper. Courtesy the artist and Daine Singer Gallery. 

Minna Gilligan, Snake eyes, 2017.jpg

Snake eyes, 2017, acrylic and collage on paper. Courtesy the artist and Daine Singer Gallery. 

Minna Gilligan, All the things we do for

All the things we do for fun, 2016, acrylic, spray paint and collage on canvas. Courtesy the artist and Daine Singer Gallery. 

What is a favourite part of your studio?

I love it when all the elements come together and I’m in my ultimate studio headspace - sitting at my desk, a true crime podcast playing on my headphones, a huge pile of textas to my left with my right hand drawing away.

[In terms of things] It’s hard to single out certain items as there is just so much stuff! I have a disco ball collection which is obviously essential to my studio space… also a vintage eraser collection, another essential!

Have you got a key figure, moment or cross road that has changed or heavily influenced your technique?

I think it was second year uni that I truly got it through my head that representational drawing or painting wasn’t the be all and end all of art making. I began to move towards abstraction with my mark making and it was the strangest of new worlds to me as I navigated that shift in thinking.


Is there a message you hope to convey through your work?

I want my works to have whispers and hints of what’s under the surface, and to let the viewer go on their own tangent with these. It’s important to me that my audience picks up on some of these hints, but that they go their own way with what they may mean. I use nostalgic tropes a lot in my work, and these help with individual viewers associating my works with past memories of their own.

From forming initial ideas, to creating a finalised work, could you talk us through the processes that are used to bring your ideas to life?

I am not a planner when it comes to making work, so my art comes into being amongst a chaotic process. Things take shape as they go. I might begin by coming across some vintage curtains at an op shop. I would then bleach and dye these curtains, and stretch them on stretcher bars to form the basis for a painting. I don’t like working on stark white grounds, found fabric with an already emotionally loaded surface is a better starting point for me. When painting on this surface, I just have all my materials out and go for what feels right. It’s quick, and intuitive, and I am always surprised by the outcomes.


Who would be your dream partner to collaborate with?

I’d love to do album artwork for Madonna.

Minna Gilligan, Sunday Morning, 2016, ac

Sunday Morning, 2016, acrylic and collage on paper. Courtesy the artist and Daine Singer Gallery. 

Do you have a favourite podcast you would recommend to like-minded creatives?

At the moment I’ve listened to every single true crime podcast episode there is, so I’m into a podcast called Folklore which talks about fairies and ghosts and witches.


Where are you dreaming of going?

I’ve never been to Europe so I’d like to go to that side of the world, maybe starting with England and Scotland so I can visit the fairies I’m learning about in the Folklore Podcast ha ha.