Her enchanting illustrations are steeped in whimsy.
When they are not seen on a gallery wall anywhere from Berlin to Bologna, Meredith Gaston’s works can be found in a book, a calendar, on a kids board game, a wine label or a child’s wall. They are even found on pyjamas sold at a prominent women’s fashion house, raising literally hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity. And it’s all now created out of a cosy nest in Katoomba.
Three years ago, the internationally recognised artist relocated to the Mountains, a move planned since childhood after spending winters here.
The result of that move is her second solo book, 101 Moments of Joy and Inspiration, which uses water colours and ink illustrations and the words of wise philosophers, as a balm for life.
Ms Gaston, 28, says the Mountains has helped cure her of a combination of autoimmune disease and long-term kidney problems, living a quieter, more restful life with home grown vegetables, daily yoga and her German partner Kevin Lindemann by her side.
“Being in the Mountains has been very grounding for me,” she said.
“I’d lived overseas and in share houses in Sydney but I’d never had my roots in the soil. I’ve been able to settle down and create a home with the person I love, I think that has really affected everything.
“Here we watch the garden go from summer to autumn to winter to spring and there’s a sense of renewal, there’s a time for rest and a time for action, you know slowing down, I think that’s something that can inform natural human rhythms.”
The book was created amongst the peace and quiet of the couple’s lovingly restored 1860s home brought by bullock and cart from the Megalong Valley to its present site in 1901.
The words of Oscar Wilde, Socrates, Albert Einstein stand alongside her charming drawings.
“I had a little book where I collected them [the quotes], some of the material was from the breast cancer survivors network, but I found most of them on my travels, funny places, heard them in movies, read them in books,” she said.
“I love philosophy and ancient wisdom and some of the great old Chinese proverbs and Rumy, the romantic. Some of the quotes really changed my life. I knew I could go on gathering forever but I used the quotes that made me want to draw, they kind of inform each other.”
For eight years Ms Gaston has successfully survived on her art earnings — mainly through paring back a drawing of a girl from journals she wrote at 15 while bedridden with glandular fever, her architect Dad regularly bringing home pads and crayons to help inspire her.
“I had health problems since childhood which is why I wrote my first book about bed and [with] this book, I had taken my health into my own hands and was feeling so much better. To be in the studio every day and have such positive reinforcement, I was drawing from the most beautiful words —this book was balm for my spirit and that’s what I wanted to create.”
101 Moments of Joy and Inspiration by Meredith Gaston (Lantern, $24.99) is out now. Signed copies are available at Megalong Books in Leura.