Meet the Artist: Meera Palia

I caught up with abstract expressionist painter Meera Palia. We chatted about her journey to date, artistic practice and various sources of inspiration. I was also lucky enough to receive a private tour of her Collage Artspace studio in lieu of the annual N22 Open Studios, which has now been postponed until next spring.

Quick Fire Questions:

1. The last artist you looked up?

Joan Mitchell

2. An unexpected source of inspiration?

Rust on the bottom of an old pan

3. Best place to eat in Wood Green?

Blue House Yard Bus

In relative terms, Meera Palia is quite the newbie. Only really starting to paint in her spare time in the 2010s, she has little memory of doing much before that. We laugh incredulously, recalling the countless sketches of coke cans made in secondary school art class. The height of artistic education!

Growing up to become a teacher herself, Meera opted for the more cerebral combination of Sociology and Philosophy. She stands by this career choice, lamenting the lack of critical thinking skills and a preference for a ‘bitesize’ consumption of important political affairs.

As is far too common amongst teachers today, Meera found the workload unmanagable. She recounts stories of marking books ’til the crack of dawn in the company of an equally overworked flatmate both fueled by coffee. Despite Meera’s good natured ribbing of her younger self, it’s clear that this time of her life wasn’t much like a cute and quirky indie film at all. She began to paint simply to unwind from an understandably busy head.

Taking an ever-increasing interest, Meera became what she terms an ‘adult education junkie’. Squeezing in short courses and painting sessions when and where she could. Soon enough a year away on Sabbatical was arranged with the ambition to give painting full-time an honest shot. It only took a few months for the artist to pick up the phone and tell her school: I’m not coming back. 

Now, Meera is vibrant and relaxed as she sits with me in Karamel, flicking through A3 prints of her work. We pick out our favourite details, of colour combinations, shapes and textures in Giant City Step Count [2019] pictured below. Meera responds to my questions with a glint in her eye. She holds up the images like a cautious assistant, expecting the bright green brushstroke to pipe up and snap at the mauve swirl.

Giant City Step Count [2019] Meera Palia

These unruly, fantastical and humorous paintings clearly evoke pride and wonder in the painter. Of course they are her own creations but they seem to live without her, revealing new attitudes each time they are gazed at. “I have no ethos for painting. Other than, I just want to do it,” she says “the joy and surprises come afterwards- in the analysis.”

“Spontaneity occurs I am open and relaxed,” Meera claims, with the air of a zen master. “When I am about to leave the studio and just removing excess paint from my pallette, I can sometimes make the most interesting marks because I feel the most free in my gestures when there are no expectations on outcome” Giving your work the space to talk to you, respond to your brushstrokes, is the true spirit of spontaneity. Quickly layering fast-drying acrylic paint, intuitively ripping and sticking old paintings and utilising found objects such as earphone wires as in The Secret World of Headphones: Part 1 [2019].

The power of reinvention is a strong driving force. As is remaining open to unexpected inspiration. This was certainly true for Meera in this instance, as she recounts her bewilderment at the ‘metaphysical party in her pocket’ causing these once neat earphones to resurface in an inscrutable tangle.

I ask Meera whether she is inspired by scenes of urban life. She laughs when I say some of her work reminds me of Wood Green High Street at rush hour. What I enjoy the most about her pieces is the warm invitation into her world. Bold and playful use of colour and collage coupled with joyful and often plain silly titles. Meera’s paintings are unpretentious, exciting and a pleasure watch unfold- as though they are actually animated.

As well as putting some of her original work on the market, Meera also sells prints. I personally find investing in art to be an intimidating commitment, so prints are a wonderful way to make art affordable to a wider audience. This way, more art-lovers can add some beauty and colour to their walls. Independent makers and non-commerical artists did see an unexpected spike in interest and sales as domestic spaces were made multifunctional during the pandemic.

For the second year running we are missing our showcase event, the N22 Open Studios where Meera would usually display her paintings and prints. This important event, where we are able to take stock of the creativity and diversity of the tenants in Collage Artspaces, will now take place in Spring 2022. 

For now, the Autumn Hues exhibition and art market is running in Karamel until the end of December. You can check out Meera’s work, alongside 15 other resident artists. Find out about our studios here.

Meera’s beautiful, high-resolution prints are also available to purchase online.