Meaghan Hyckie: Nestled

Beam 1, 2022, copperplate etching, 6” x 8” (image size detail), variable edition

Meaghan Hyckie

May 7 – June 10, 2022

Smokestack Gallery, Mill Unit #216, 270 Sherman Avenue N. The Cotton Factory, Hamilton ON

Exhibition Opening Reception: Saturday, May 7th, 5 – 8 PM In-person RSVP here

Smokestack Gallery is thrilled to present Nestled: a solo-exhibition of intaglio prints by Toronto-based artist Meaghan Hyckie, produced as part of the inaugural 2022 Smokestack Analog Print Residency.

Collaborating with Smokestack’s Master Printmaker, Laine Groeneweg, Hyckie undertook an intensive, introductory focus on aquatint etching and photopolymer gravure. The suite of new prints created experiment with the shifting of colour and tonal density through the unique properties of intaglio printmaking.

Artist Statement:
Neighbourhood Watch signs have always interested me because of the peculiar way they communicate a threat while attempting to project a sense of security at the same time. The signs where I live in Southern Ontario feature three houses with giant eyeballs for windows, a pretty accurate visual summation of my suburban experience: an imagined safe space presenting an uneasy equilibrium between the vulnerabilities of individual freedom alongside the restrictions of collective scrutiny.

The houses I depict in my work are intensely personal, specific translations of my childhood suburban home, its windows and proportions. But they’re also not personal at all, given that this house form is so general it can be reduced to an icon, and that thousands of homes just like them were built across Canada as part of a federal initiative in the 1940s to provide affordable housing for veterans and their families. Through iterative manifestations of this imagery, I try to abstract and articulate a rootless sense of disorientation in work that evokes complex social histories, at once sympathetic towards the utopian idealism these structures embody and critical of the colonial approach to nation-building they represent.

I love the house I grew up in, and I still visit there often. I like to take walks around the neighborhood when the light is changing and the dynamic between who sees and can be seen from inside and outside shifts. I know this is a bit creepy. I also know that everyone does it. I’ve tried to channel this visual and emotional tension into these etchings, mixing unusual colour combinations with subtle tonal variations to create delicately tactile, optically vibrating prints that shift from feeling appealing to unsettling.

An interview between Meaghan Hyckie and Smokestack Gallery Director, Tara Westermann, follows:

Tara Westermann (TW): Why did you want to work with intaglio printing?

Meaghan Hyckie (MH): Drawing is at the heart of my practice, but printmaking makes so much sense to me because of the iterative nature of my work. I’ve made silkscreen prints before but I’ve been curious about etching [intaglio]. The transparency of the ink feels murky and secretive, at odds with the simple, pattern-based iconography that I wanted to work with during the residency. I felt like intaglio would facilitate a good mix of aesthetic and fun with a bit of melancholy and ennui, materially and energetically.

TW: How would you describe working in silkscreen versus intaglio?

MH: Where silkscreen ink leaves an image sitting on-top of the paper, intaglio pushes the image back into the space of the paper…there’s a kind of density to the medium. The physicality and depth of the oil-based inks make it feel like you’re looking into a portal. Silkscreen moves towards you, where etching sucks you in.

TW: The work in the exhibition is a continuation of your iconographic explorations of domestic architecture and notions of ‘home’. How do the etchings that make up ‘Nestled’ expand on this body of work overall?

MH: Thinking about word associations for this series, I hit upon Nestled. I like how it relates to the idea of home and settled-ness, affection, closeness — a kind of snuggle. That’s a very different feeling than my previous silkscreens and drawings that use similar imagery, but are intended to be more overwhelming and impersonal. These etchings have an intimacy of scale that reward close looking. They’re more like portraits or cameos. I want people to stay with them for a while.

Meaghan Hyckie (b. 1983, Toronto) is represented by Olga Korper Gallery, Toronto, and has exhibited work with Macaulay & Co. Fine Art, Vancouver; Galerie Nicolas Robert, Montreal; Museum London; the Art Gallery of Windsor and the Art Gallery of Ontario. Hyckie has received numerous grants in support of her practice from the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council and the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation. Her prints and drawings are held in the collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Museum London, The Bailey Collection, BMO and RBC art collections among others. Hyckie lives and works in Toronto.

Peak, 2022, copperplate etching, 10.5” x 12.5” (paper size), variable edition

Smokestack Gallery exhibits the work of artists who have produced their print projects in Smokestack’s Analog and Digital studios. The partnered operations between Smokestack Studios and Smokestack Gallery seek to establish a connection between the production of print works and their final presentation; to offer a greater understanding of the uniquely technical and creative processes involved in these specialized artistic disciplines. Smokestack is committed to the support and establishment of connections within the printmaking community and between printmakers and the wider viewing public.

The 2022 Smokestack Analog Print Residency and exhibition of artworks created by residency participants has been made possible with the generous support from the Ontario Arts Council.

For more information:
TEL: 289.799.5088

Gallery Hours:
Monday – Friday: 10 AM – 4 PM or by appointment

Mill Unit #216, 270 Sherman Avenue N.
The Cotton Factory
Hamilton, ON
L8L 6N4
Accessible (with provided assistance)