I am a Chinese-born, Sydney-based artist, working in painting, drawing, printmaking and installation. My personal experiences as a forced farming labourer in my teenager years in China and relocating to Australia anchor my practice in the exploration of local landscapes to seek the understanding of current intercultural environments through a culturally diffuse and open-ended art practice. 


My work examines map-making and Western landscape traditions in response to current patterns of globalisation, the gig economy and hybrid cultures in relation to their impact in reshaping the local environment and the concept of place. Combining direct painting and drawing in the landscape with the Google Maps’ interface, I create paintings using the methods of Chinese landscape painting and abstract expressionism in diverse media to envision the natural and cultural topography of Sydney landscape in a way that transcends the limitations of traditional Western single-point perspective.  


My current MFA project focuses on three Chinese market gardens, in which local indigenous and colonial histories are intertwined with the physical characteristics of these marginal, low-lying, densely farmed zones in Sydney’s urban ecosystem. Inspired by the composite view of Google Maps that combines aerial and embodied perspectives, I transform the geographic features of these gardens through mark-making consisting of poured paint and gestural brush-marks to develop an integrated mapped space of individual works arranged into a dynamic installation view. Through this process, I seek to embrace a culturally diverse position of place within the expanded field of painting, in which landscape can express living memories while simultaneously embodying an artistic process of understanding the nuanced social and cultured landscape in which we live. 

Mei Zhao