5 Minutes with… Greta Menzies
Written by Marine Bucher
Two years ago I took a screen printing workshop at the Neighbourhood Studio in Newtown, Wellington. Greta Menzies was my tutor and a major inspiration. Her art is unique and her sustainable approach pushes you to design for good. I recently interviewed her to find out more about her work.
Hi Greta, you’ve just repainted the walls of San Fran in Wellington. What does your artwork there represent?
This is the first client I’ve had whose brief was: “Paint whatever you like.” It was awesome. These works are me painting whatever I liked! And it’s a bar, so people are (hopefully) in the mood for weird, fun, rude, stupid stuff, painted on the walls.
What inspires your art?
Shapeshifting, absurdity, the grotesque.
Speculative fiction and speculative design.
Post-natural and post-humanism.
What is your process when you create a piece?
It’s curated serendipity. I am happiest working in a way that begins with only a few parameters (I will use this substrate, this tool, I am thinking of these things), and allow the work to evolve. I fill up on thoughts and ideas, and then creating is a meditative process which lets me start to unpack, or reform, or challenge.
How do you think design can change a venue?
Infinitely! The colour, pattern and imagery around us have a big impact.
San Fran is a place where people come to have fun and to experience the pleasures of dancing and drinking and good company, so it was an excellent venue to paint up some playful stuff.
You also work in fashion and art with a sustainable/ethnic approach. How do you link it all?
I think makers/artists/designers have to consider the impact of what they create, and that should be an innate part of the process rather than a ‘special eco project’ on the side. I’m interested in how the environmental impact of an object can be lightened through material choices, and through modes of interaction (how it is used).
In the San Fran project, I chose the most environmentally friendly paint I know of (Resene), and I plan to use their recycling facility at the end.
When I create usable objects (clothing, jewellery) I consider the materials, but also how it will be used, and what will happen to it at the end of its life. It is challenging.
Designing textiles for https://makeuse.nz/ made me consider alternative modes of interacting with products (modifying, amending, etc) as a way to lessen environmental impact.
What is your favourite place to hang out in Wellington?
The Neighbourhood Studio in Newtown! I LOVE screen-printing, and my girl Eloise has made the best space for it.
Also, she always has great snacks.
Any upcoming projects?
Yep! I am about to launch a label/website/thought-hole/shop www.yesyes.space
This will be a place to collate my visual and material experiments (and some cool collaborations are brewing for that too).