Meg Torwl

The Meg Torwl Collection | Megacy

This collection is in remembrance of the cultural and activist practice of Meg Torwl, New Zealander artist, performer and advocate who made Canada her home for approximately 14 years, until her death on June 21, 2013. The Meg Torwl Collection at CDMLA was prepared by Moira Simpson, with the support and assistance of Chris McDowell and Catherine Asher, Meg’s aunt. The “MEGACY” as they playfully refer to it, was donated in May 2014. We are grateful to Meg’s family and friends for responding so positively  to our request that they expand on their original donation to the CDMLA of Meg’s video tapes to include writings, documentation, and other media, so that her legacy would be represented in her adopted home as well. In some cases, this meant donating personal treasures;  in all cases it meant a deep commitment in time. We are grateful for their efforts.

An extensive archive of Meg’s life and work is being created for LAGANZ- Lesbian and Gay Archives of New Zealand, in Wellington, New Zealand.


MEG TORWL worked in video, new media, audio, photography, writing, performance and arts advocacy. Her work has been exhibited, broadcast, published and performed in her native New Zealand, Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. She produced five new media projects – meditative colour and water photography based installations: Singing Bowls (2004), AQWAI (2006), TIARIKA (2008), Going Coastal (2010), and PORTAL/PORTAGE (2011), and directed three documentaries distributed by Video Out: Act Your Age!? (2000), where have all the lesbians gone? (2001), and Towards the day…we are all free (2007). Meg also worked in radio, producing 50 half-hour programs with Radio New Zealand National’s One in Five disability community program (2007/8), with a focus on youth, art, multiculturalism and policy. She worked for arts organizations in community outreach and project coordination for the National Film Board of Canada (2004), CBC TV (2006), KickstArt Disability Arts and Culture (2009/10), and BC Regional Integrated Arts Network (2010). Meg was a visual artist, a graduate of The Writers Studio (2011) at SFU, and published numerous books of poetry.

Meg Torwl YouTube Channel
A collection of Meg’s performances and new media installations.

Meg Torwl Blog: Integrial Media
Many of the physical items we hold for conservation purposes, and more, are available digitally at Meg’s Integrial Media Blog.
Active September 2009 – June 10, 2013.

Folder 10: Video and Audio


CDs: One in Five, Radio New Zealand (2007-2008)
Selections from Meg’s fifty 30-minute radio programs on the issues and experience of disability.

CD: “Aqwai” (2006)
Music for the 60 minute installation “Aqwait”. The piece, “Spacious”, was composed by Tony Riparetti and Michael Gibian.


3 DVDs: “That’s so gay! Parts 1, 2 and 3”
Multidisciplinary Spoken Word Performance.
“That’s so gay!”, considers the many ways people are defined as ‘other’ and the search for solidarity across lines of gender, sexuality, race, disability and species.

2 CDs: “Tiarika” (2008)
Artirst’s Description of the installation: Submerge yourself in an underwater journey, close up with rainbow parrot fish (ika), pink sea urchins, blue lipped clams, and purple star fish, emerging into violet lotus flowers (tiare), yellow frangipani, red hibiscus blossoms, green taro leaves and blue skies of Rarotonga. Music: “Spacious” by Tony Riparetti and Michael Gibian, water and chimes.

DVD: “Quirke June 2009” (2009)
A video recording of Meg reading four poems at a public event. The DVD is labelled in Meg’s handwriting.

Video distributed by VIDEO OUT

“Act your Age?!”, 2009, 42:00, Vancouver, Canada
Accession # 2508
Master: Beta
Viewing copies: DVD, VHS
Artist’s Description: This docudrama takes a serious and humorous look at diverse attitudes to age in the lesbian communities. 10 local Vancouver women aged 16 to 80 speak candidly about themselves, friends, ex-lovers (don’t panic no names mentioned!), beauty, coming out, age, ageism, and much more. Laugh, cry, be outraged. Find out who would or wouldn’t date YOU and why.

Excerpt 1

Excerpt 2

“where have all the lesbians gone?”, 2000, 07:20, Vancouver, Canada
Accession # 2517
Master: Hi8
Viewing Copies: DVD
Artist’s Description: A bunch of vancouver dykes take hand held hi8 to new heights. in this improvisational short, which offers a wake up call to political complacency. short on plot, big on subtext. amidst comic moments these intrepid lesbians go searching for political dykes. what else
can you do when the lesbian centre becomes a tattoo parlour? featuring:erin graham, kelly haydon, cynthia sharp, gunilla, viola thomas


“Towards the day…we are all free”, 2007, 90:00, Vancouver, Canada
Accession # 2947A
Viewing copies: DVD
Artist’s Description: A feature documentary with Refugee and Aboriginal women and girls from Canadian First Nations, Iran, Afghanistan, Algeria, Bosnia, Vietnam, Guatemala, Uruguay, Aotearoa. Portrays their persecution, activism, journeys to and within Canada, through personal narrative, art, poetry, discussions and demonstrations. These are ordinary women who did extraordinary things, against all odds took matters into their own hands, changed their own lives, and the world. Their community activism and strategies for change, reflect a world of possibilities.

Towards the day… we are all free explores how gender, class, race, nation of origin, language, religion, sexuality, disability, intersect in displaced women’s lives, as they are affected by state and community persecution, racial profiling, 9/11.


Hard Drive (restricted access)

Media: Verbatim 500GB Hard Drive
Contents: Contains the digital files of the majority of work in the collection. It also contains additional digital outputs of video works in-progress, videotaped performances, photographs and finished productions.

Folder 1: Biographies, resumes, descriptions of Meg’s body of work 

Reproduction of Power Point documenting Meg Torwl’s art career.
Meg Torwl, October 2012
Printed and spiral bound, 92 pages
Original Power Point presentation available on Hard Drive

Document: web addresses of Meg’s YouTube channel and blog
1 sheet 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper, text

Resume October 2009
3 pages 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper, text

Application to SFU’s The Writers Studio, 2011
2 pages 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper, text

New Media Meditative Installations: One Sheet
1 sheet 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper, text and photos
Descriptions and thumbnails of Tiarika (2008), Aqwai (2006), Singing Bowls (2004), and exhibition dates.

List of on-line resources related to Meg Torwl
1 sheet 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper

Press Release: Thursday, 21 February 2013, Thistle Hall Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand
Re-Tern: Hokinga Mahara – A Meg Torwl Retrospective
3 pages 8 1/2″  x 11″ paper

Folder 8: Meg’s Passing

In Memoriam: Meg Torwl, Kickstart Disability arts & Culture, June 28, 2013
1 sheet letterhead 8 1/2″ x 11″

BOLD Fest! BOLD OLD(er) LESBIANS & DYKES, excerpt from program, September 6, 2013
Announcing The 4th Annual BOLD Woman of the Year Award being awarded posthumously to Meg Torwl
1 sheet letterhead 8 1/2″ x 11″

Letter to the Editor, North Shore News, North Vancouver, British Columbia, June 28, 2013
“Thanks for the good death, LGH”
Author: Dhana Musil
1 sheet letterhead 8 1/2″ x 11″

Document Tube 9: BOLD Fest Woman of the Year 2013 poster

A collage of photographs and text celebrating Meg Torwl in her many artistic and activist dimensions.
Photographic print from digital file.

PDF: Collage of Meg BOLD Woman of the Year

[accordion][accordion_group title="Writing" ]

Folder 2: Publications

“emerge 2011, The Writer’s Studio Anthology”
Guest Editor: Goto, Hiromi
Publisher: The Writing and Publishing Program, Simon Fraser University
Poetry: fermium; ferryman; the highwayman; swan song
ISSN 1925-8267
ISBN 978-0-86491-326-5 (pbk)

“The SCIENCE of poetry , The POETRY of science | Volume 1”
Curator: Aileen Penner
Publication Date: 2012
Poetry: enviro-mental

“Transit of Venus”
Author: Meg Torwl
Publisher: Integrial Media
Format: Chapbook
Publication Date: 2012

“The Writers Caravan Anthology; A Project of Thursdays Writing Collective”
Guest Editor: Michael Turner
Editor: Elee Kraljii Gardiner
Publisher: Otter Press
Publication Date: 2011
Poetry: Eight Doors to Happiness

“(in) valid”
Author: Meg Torwl
Publisher: Integrial Media
Format: Chapbook
Publication Date: 2009

Folder 3: Samples of Meg’s writing

“I Think I Shall Write a Book” (January 1990)
1 sheet 8 1/2″ x 11″ photo paper, text and colour image

Writing Sampler, compiled by Moira Simpson
21 sheets 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper unbound, text
Poems and essays: Blue (1998); moon (1998); a found poem (1998); What you see before us (1999); streetlife (1999); re Turning (2000); swan song (2005); seals (2006); Remote control (2009); Mi Amour (2009); the highwayman (2009); The POWER of the SUIT (2009); The best (last) day (2005); close encounters (2009).

Script: “That’s so gay” (15 October 2009)
20 sheets 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper, text

Proposal: “9 Lives 6 Months” an experimental film  (2009)
4 sheets 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper, text

Essay: ” Cinema of the Very Queasy: unframing ‘national cinema’ ” (2004)
Canadian and New Zealand film
10 pages, 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper, text

Essay: “Media and Disability” (8 June 2009)
3 pages, 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper, text
For publication in “Women In Film and Television Vancouver, Fall Newsletter 2004”

Folder 4: The Power of the Suit

Sample of images for projection.
1 sheet 81/2″ x 11″ photo paper with 18 images

Poem: “Androgynous: dressed up good” (From chapbook “(in) valid”)
1 sheet 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper, with text

Essay: “The POWER of the SUIT”
2 sheets 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper,  with text

Where There Be Bears II  a series of colour paintings about being a twin.
1994 + 1996
Digital reproductions, 4 sheets 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper.

Chakra drawings – series
9 sheets 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper. Colour ink.

Notepaper with drawings of birds, reptiles, plants, planets and stars.
24 pages 8 1/2″ x 12″, black ink drawings on colour paper
Identified as Copyright A Pen Elope Production; Copyright Imprints Writing Paper or Cards.

Watercolour, 9″ x 12″ – white, yellow, brown and blue

5″ x 7″ photographic reproduction

Paintings – (description) woman and child, and a face, used in “Towards the day…when we are all free” video
5″ x 7″ photographic reproduction

“Continuous Space Bar”
Watercolour, 5″ x 7″

Folder 6: Binders of work created by Meg

3 binders of original art work, photographs, and writings assembled by Meg Torwl.

“Poetry: Streams of cool water”
Purple ring binder; collection of hand written poems with photographs about nature and landscape (1984-1995); 14 pages.


  • noiseless noise (1984)
  • caves (1984)
  • Run To The Hills (May 1985)
  • Haeve ra (December 1985)
  • Kaimanawa Ranges (June 1985)
  • hillflat (August 1990)
  • Untitled (1990)
  • Lake (October 1990)
  • down the road a bit (February 1991)
  • lament (November 1993)
  • once (February 1994)
  • nature (May 1995)

“The Bear under the Bed and other stories”
Grey ring binder with bear paw and rainbow stickers; 14 pages.
Collection of short stories (1998-1999) which appear to be related to Pandora’s Box, a collaboration with Louise Maich.
Performance at the Silo Theatre, Auckland, May 1999.

  • Program: “Pandora’s Box presents The Silo Season”
  • Short story: “The Bear Under the Bed” (March 1998)
  • Short story: “It’s a wonder we ever got together at all” (May 1998)
  • Short story: “Cowboy Clifford – a cautionary tale” (November 1999)
  • Copies of newpaper clippings: “Women get creative with Pandora’s Box”, North Shore News, 12 May 1999; “Womens art and theatre”, Auckland What’s Happening, 13 May 1999; “The opening of Pandora’s Box”, Express, 13 May 1999.

“Poetry: Pol y trix”
Multi-coloured binder with flowers, birds and sun; 20 pages.
A handwritten selection of poetry about identity, (1983-1997).


  • Reproduction of pencil drawing: “Seanmhar” (possibly 1997)


  • The World (1983)
  • Medi ocre (1984)
  • the philosophy of a 17 year old (1984)
  • The Big Smoke (1984)
  • my world (1984)
  • production line (1985)
  • The killing fields (1985)
  • Comedy of errors/why we still need feminism (1986)
  • Rape (1986)
  • A letter to the my people, the Pakeha (1987)
  • Women in Tertiary Education Conference (1987)
  • Hen Party (1987)
  • Meet me on the street? (1993)
  • ancestree (1995)
  • a new zealander? (1995)
  • a celt then, raised up in the pacific? (1995)
  • 3rd generation scottish? Alba/Ecosse (1996)
  • francais (1996)
  • “civilization” (1996)
  • backbone of the country (1997)
  • Immigrants/Incomers (the language of invasion) (1995)
  • its no coincidence english colonies are pink on the map (1996)
  • cold wars and iron curtains (1996)
  • eth(n)ics (1997)
  • footprints on the moon forever (1997)


  • Childrens Lives Going Cheap (1997); original, collage and handwriting

Folder 7: A selection of photographs found on Meg’s hard drive (photographers not recorded)

  • 4″x6″ colour, the white wooden home Meg grew up in,  New Zealand
  • 5″x7″ colour, Meg seated in wheelchair facing lake
  • 5″x7″ colour, Meg standing beside large white rock on beach, White Rock, British Columbia
  • 5″x7″ colour, composite of Gertrude Stein text, Meg’s writing, and image of Meg meditating in new home
  • 5″x7″ colour, Meg on motorized chair/scooter
  • 5″x7″ colour, Meg on stage, reading as part of performance
  • 5″x7″ colour, Meg photographing floral peace symbol in center of the Marker of Change, Women’s Memorial; Thornton Park, Vancouver, British Columbia
  • 5″x7″ colour, Meg with partner Adrienne Bradley at the ocean
  • 5″x7″ colour, Meg and partner Adrienne Bradley hugging on porch at sunset
  • 5″x7″ B&W, Meg with her twin brother Murray, celebrating Meg’s birthday May 7, 2013
  • 5″x7″ colour, Meg with her Aunt Catherine reading one of her poem, celebrating Meg’s birthday May 7, 2013
  • 5″x7″ colour, Mentor Jan Derbyshire (performer, playwright, theatre maker, director, teacher) and Meg
  • 5″x7″ colour, Meg performing “That’s so gay!”, Balancing Acts, 2009
  • 5″x7″ colour, Meg with her installation TIARIKA (2008)
  • 5″x7″ colour,  Meg seated, wearing hat, performing “That’s so gay!”
  • 5″x7″ colour, Meg behind the camera at video shoot, The POWER of the SUIT
  • 5″x7″ colour, Woman (unidentified), Adrienne Bradley, Meg Torwl
  • 5″x7″ colour, Meg in suit, The POWER of the SUIT
  • 5″x7″ colour, portrait of Meg
  • 5″x7″ colour, Meg sitting by the sea
  • 5″x7″ colour, Meg poses with her Canadian Citizenship papers in government office
  • 5″x7″ colour, Woman (unidentified), Meg seated, Adrienne Bradley
  • 5″x7″ colour, Meg reading on stage
  • 5″x7″ colour, Meg in motorized chair on beach, fall or winter
  • 5″x7″ colour, Meg asleep in bed with cats
  • 5″x7″ colour, Meg in a cave in New Zealand at 17 years of age (Photo: Murray Torwl)