I'm wanting to articulate the majesty and mystery of the unseen network-connection between us and nature (as nature) and to reveal images that may not yet be in the collective unconscious - moving us through the abstract into the imaginable.
Stephen Meakin was born in 1966 in Staffordshire, England, and spent his formative years growing up in the beautiful Georgian cities of Bath and Brighton from 1977. As a school kid he was well known for being quiet and contemplative busily engaging himself in abstract thought staring out of the classroom window or drawing doodles where he shouldn’t. In fact, gazing out of the window and more importantly, the idea of seeing through to the nature of things, became the defining theme of his creative practice for decades to come. Being somewhat isolated it was not so long before he found freedom of expression. In 1978 it was still illegal to skateboard on the pavements in Brighton & Hove (the original Pig City Skaters) and by 1982 he and his graffiti-skater mates were already known to authorities for committing a new kind of creative crime. All his exams, except art, seemed purely incidental and like many of his peers he became distrusting of authority figures and the establishment (Thatcherism) that it professed to represent.
In 1986 he was offered a place on the Art Foundation at Brighton Polytechnic. As a student of art he was encouraged to explore different forms of expression in painting, textile, sculpture and video. At that time the Brit Art movement was flowering in London but he was looking for a different kind of aesthetic that seemed unrepresented in the galleries. All his Tutors were enraptured by Postmodernism and their apparent rejection of the great stories and meta-narratives of the ancient world isolated him further. By 1987 he was thoroughly frustrated by an art-world that just didn’t seem to make any sense and he refused to be absorbed within the structures and creative practice that surrounded him. Then in 1989 a friend invited him to London to see an exhibition of Aboriginal Art and suddenly he felt at home surrounded by an art the spirit of which had great effect on him. Suddenly he felt an 'inseparabilty' from himself and the art on display that he had not felt before.
Being unsure of his creative direction in 1990 he had found a place to study for a degree in 3D design at Bournemouth. It was here, whilst researching ideas for a project, he discovered a dusty old hard-back full of ancient ‘illuminated’ manuscripts from all over the world. This book contained the loose-leaf illustrations of geometric pattern construction methods of both Arabic and Celtic pattern. On finding something 'true' in pattern he began to imagine an abstract language that can be found in all cultures and his passion for geometry was born although it was a quietly private interest. Once graduated he worked for Swatch briefly and then for an upmarket kitchen design company in Tunbridge Wells before relocating abroad where he helped to paint theatre backdrops in France, Ibiza and then on to Mexico before eventually returning to the UK via a 3 year stay in the Virgin Islands where he worked as a mural painter and windsurf instructor. In his private sketchbooks he had started to explore Geometry as a universal language learning the techniques of Celtic pattern making and embracing the decorative arts from Persia and Tibet.
In 1996, after having a crisis pertainng to the nature of exisitance, he was offered a place to study Architecture & Interior Design at Brighton University and passed the course, but due to his distrust of the internationalism being taught by the academics as architectural theory, he began to embrace ideas from ‘The Bauhaus School' and filling his private sketchbooks with pattern. Going against the grain of the university he gave himself time to continue research of subjects such as cosmology, ancient temple buildings and the abstract ornament of antiquity. Following some successful but discontented years working in commercial architecture designing out-of-town shopping centres and then cruise ship interiors, he decided to move back to Brighton in 2002 to study for an MA in Fine Art. This allowed him time for a more in-depth compositional analysis of inspired works by his favourite artists Kandinsky, Klee & Miro and this initiated further conceptual alignments in the process of making art developed by Brice Marden, Hanne Darboven and Joseph Albers. Everything became about the process and whilst his tutors could not grasp the meta-narrative of his creations he managed to develop a less decorative style of work just to satisfy the tutors and to pass the course - which he did in 2004.
Finally he was free and Stephen Meakin is now best known for his large, vibrant, often circular paintings that are under-pinned by the meticulous draftsmanship of archetypal and universal geometries. With a controlled but no less expressive artistic style, each canvas is painstakingly painted over hundreds of hours eventually revealing beautiful mandala-esque patterns that are simultaneously inspirational, yet contemplatively intriguing. On closer inspection these paintings are much more content rich than the mere surface ornament. Intricate geometries are woven together with botanical form, butterflies, bees, birds and mystical beasts flowing from his imagination. Each composition has its own numerical narrative embedded within its fine detail. Just as a pentagon (forget-me-knot has 5 petals), is different from a hexagon (honeycomb has 6 sides), each painting has its own structural laws and its own number, rhythm, cadence and tone. The essence of his work is to encourage a higher level of relating with the physical world that surrounds us.
“My paintings are like a sanctuary for me and each time I explore geometry at this scale, it feels like I’m plugging into some ancient nature language. When I make the first dot on the canvas I get a buzz, really it’s like a very low electric current full of different routes, options and outcomes. This current is resistant to me and it is the resistance that has so much potential”.