Installation view of megan evans’ work <em>The wills project</em> on display as part of the <em>Melbourne Now</em> exhibition at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne from 24 March – 20 August 2023. Image: Sean Fennessy

megan evans

megan evans
(b. 1957, Melbourne. Lives and works in Melbourne)

megan evans is an interdisciplinary artist who began her creative career in the 1980s making large political murals. evans’s Scottish and Irish ancestors were early colonisers of Australia, and her practice examines this heritage and its impact in a contemporary setting. In particular, she has focused on her great-grandmother Isabella Kelly, nee Robertson, born in 1860. In 1983, evans met and later married Aboriginal artist and activist Les Griggs (1958–1994), who was a member of the Stolen Generations. ‘Through my relationship with him, I began to understand the full impact of colonisation in Australia’, says evans.

 The wills project is an investigation into this inheritance. The wills – purchased by evans in 2020 and belonging to various individuals living in Melbourne and surrounds, including biscuit manufacturer Thomas Bibby Guest and geologist and mining engineer Robert Brough Smyth – and cartes de visite that comprise the project are painted with feathers, fake blood and Victorian objects. The use and misuse of these Victorian-era items aims to convey that the objects were witness to what was happening in Victoria in those times. Essentially, the project asks: will we or won’t we confront restitution to the First Nations people of this land?

evans has exhibited around Australia and internationally. She has been published widely in books, journals and magazines, and has been awarded several residencies in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. She has exhibited solo at sites including the Ballarat International Foto Biennale (2019), the Art Gallery of Ballarat (2018) and the Centre for Contemporary Photography (2001), and has won several awards and prizes, including the Footscray Art Prize (2019), the Wyndham Art Prize (2004, 2022) and the Sir Ian Potter Award (1991). Her work is held in the NGV Collection and other public and private collections in Australia and overseas.