Lara Merrett: Flip side

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Lara Merrett’s latest solo show is titled Flip side. This naturally begs the question, flipside of what? When I meet the artist in her studio in Sydney’s inner west, she is also working on High Stakes, a project commissioned by the University of Queensland Art Museum, which will involve 100 volunteers working on 60 massive canvases for a site-specific installation. Indicating the smaller ink-stained paintings she’s working on as we speak, Merrett says: “And this is the flipside of that. Everything is based in the studio. It feels very personal, very intimate.”

Colour is an ongoing preoccupation for Merrett and the paintings for Flip side are steeped in it. Inky translucent pools and watery washes of acrylic colour infuse her canvases. For Merrett the use of colour is both instinctive and experiential. Although she doesn’t have true synaesthesia, working with colour triggers unexpected thoughts and memories. “I suppose colour is an experience for me, it’s not just a technical part of painting,” she says. “I like the idea that a colour might relate to an experience. And you may not fully grasp what that experience was, but it’s definitely something that has made you who you are.

I find the process of working with colour unlocks those parts of memory that I wouldn’t have access to otherwise.”

While working, Merrett tries not to overthink her colour choices. She enjoys letting go. “I know I have a strong relationship with colour,” the artist says, “and I trust that. So then I lose a bit of control; I have trust in the process and what it will lead to.” Which makes perfect sense – after all, the flipside of rationality is intuition.

Flip side
Lara Merrett
Jan Murphy Gallery
7 May – 25 May

Tracey Clement