Dream Catcher – Morgan Connoley

Dream Catcher’ – An eclectic collection of old and new works by Morgan Connoley is a new exhibition at Tuckerberry Hill Blueberry Farm on the Bellarine Peninsula.  

Morgan Connoley is an entrepreneurial artist illustrator and graphic designer, a rising star in the design world around this region. Not one to sit back and relax, Connoley has been making her mark (so to speak) with her illustrations. Over the past year she produced over twenty new works, participated in her first collaboration ‘Animalia’ at Kaleidoscope Gallery, exhibited in Boom Gallery’s ’40×40 Christmas Show’, and presented her work in a special display at Westfield Shopping Centre. Amongst all that she also found time to co-found the newly formed Geelong Illustrators with artists Laura Alice and Jenna Ramondo.

Morgan Connoley
Morgan Connoley.

Now Connoley is exhibiting in a solo show on the Bellarine Peninsula at Tuckerbery Hill Blueberry Farm. Working predominantly with pencil and water colour, Connoley’s whimsical illustrations are a hybrid of fashion and art, and feature recurring motifs of the female form, faces, clothes and animals, which she often combines in unusual ways. After she completes the hand colouring and line work, she finishes off her illustrations digitally before preparing them for print.

Connoley works full time as a graphic designer, so she creates her quirky illustrations in her spare time, and sells them in shops and galleries throughout Victoria, as well as online. You can find out more about Morgan Connoley’s work on Facebook and Instagram but first, here is a Q&A with this motivated and prolific illustrator. Thanks Morgan!

Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo, Morgan Connoley. Pencil, pen, watercolour & digital media. Image courtesy the artist.
Why is the exhibition titled ‘Dream Catcher’?

Dream Catcher was a word that represented all of the work in this exhibition – new, old, whimsy, ink-dreamy and storytelling.

Can you tell us about the typical process for creating one of your works of art?

I start with research, lots and lots of research. Fashion blogs, online stores, magazines, anything with women, models, clothing, faces or animals. Then I sketch. I use either pencil or pigment ink pens depending on the illustration. After sketching, I watercolour. The water colouring completes the illustration stage. Next is the digital media stage. My illustrations are scanned on a high resolution scanner and digitally manipulated (if applicable) and executed for printing.

Land of make believe Connoley
Land of Make Believe. Don’t Believe In Me, Morgan Connoley. Pencil, pen, watercolour & digital media. Image courtesy the artist.
Can you describe your work in this exhibition?

This exhibition Dream Catcher – An eclectic collection of old and new works by Morgan Connoley is exactly how its titled, a combination of my favourite past illustrations, combined with some newbies that I’m loving. Its whimsical and dreamy with a heavy story telling feel, make-believe animals and beautiful models combined.

All artists experience challenges in their practice. Can you tell us about any you have had?

For the past ten years I have been pushing myself, challenging myself to experiment with new mediums, trialing new concepts and its only been in the last two years that I have really felt that I have a particular style. Finding your own style, without the influence of other artists is extremely challenging.

Have you ever made an artistic pilgrimage? If so, where did you go and why?

Over the past twelve months I have been lucky enough to visit some of the greatest galleries in the world: MOMA in New York City, Tate Modern in London, The Louvre in Paris, The Dali Museum also in Paris, and the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, to name a few.  I was also extremely fortunate enough to have visited one of my favourite artist’s exhibitions in London – Yayoi Kusama. On my next pilgrimage I’m hoping to visit Frida Kahlo’s house in Mexico, I love her work and also the work of Diego Rivera.

Did you have an inspirational teacher and how did that shape the course of your work?

I think that all of my teachers have left their mark on me some way or another, from my art teacher in primary school, right through to my current employer. I think that you take different elements of different people. I am also very inspired by some of my closest friends, their work and their ethic.

untitledUntitled, Morgan Connoley. Pencil, pen, watercolour & digital media. Image courtesy the artist.
If there was one piece of artwork you could have in your collection, what would it be and why?

Aesthetically (and it may be a little cliché), I would love an Andy Warhol. I would also love a Frida Kahlo self portrait, or some more Dan Hillier screen prints. My amazing family gave me a Dan Hillier for Christmas, Toward Death, a hand pulled screen print.

Are there any artists who have been an inspiration to you?

Loads! Australian artists Bec Winnel and Kelly Smith, Dan Hillier, Yayoi Kusama, Damian Hirst, Fafi, Black List Studio and of course my friends, Jenna Ramondo and Laura Alice.

Art education?

I studied art until the end of year 12 at Clonard College in Geelong. I also had private art lessons as extra curricular. I then went on to study a Bachelor of Visual Arts at the University of Ballarat majoring in Graphic Design (I also studied Photography and Art History minors). I now work 9-5 as a graphic designer for a boutique design agency in Geelong where I continue to learn daily.

Good HaircutA Good Haircut & A Skinny Pair of Jeans, Morgan Connoley. Pencil, pen, watercolour & digital media. Image courtesy the artist.
Tell us how the Geelong Illustrators group came about?

Jenna, Laura and I had always spoken of how Geelong has a strong band of illustrative artists whose talents remain untapped. United by a love for inky story telling pictures and dreams of a collaborative community, we joined forces and made plans for a debut exhibition in mid 2013. Our application process has now closed and we have been absolutely blown away at the level of talent that has been flooding into our inbox! Watch this space!

Dream Catcher: An eclectic collection of old and new works by Morgan Connoley
Saturday 23 February – April 2013
Tuckerberry Hill Blueberry Farm
35 Becks Road, Drysdale.
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