April 21, 2016
Well I am well out of the habit of writing blog posts, but there are a couple of pieces of news to share, so I am back. The two things are related, and they have to do with monotype. Firstly, my work above, Eucumbene, is in a show at the moment at Megalo Print Studio & Gallery in Canberra. The show is called Bonsai + Print and it is the culmination of a year long project which brought together five printmakers and five bonsai artists. More about that shortly. The other thing is that Megalo have asked me to present a monotype workshop next month (May 22 – see here for details). This will be just a one day workshop to keep it as a fun and easy thing to do. We will probably concentrate on black and white images for this one, and then schedule a later class for working with multiple colours later.
The Bonsai + Print show has been really well received with many people commenting on how different the gallery feels with the living (and quite spectacular) bonsai in the space. The above shot shows a great bonsai Banksia by Mike and a large print by Annika Romeyn which also happens to be a monotype. Mike was the bonsai artist who responded to my query as to if anyone had any dead bonsai they could give me. I intended to slice them up and either make relief prints as they were, or use them for wood engravings. The dead bonsai that I received fromMike were such interesting objects though, I got stuck on making drawings of them and later monotypes and still haven’t reached the stage of being ready to slice them up yet. A prominent feature of bonsai is of course scale, with the plants looking like scale models of much larger trees, and so it just felt right to start printing the monotypes on some of my sizeable collection of old maps (that’s another story). I started drawing the trees in an upright fashion, but with them being dead, and using the maps which seemed to emphasise land as something to be used and altered for industrial purposes (like the map used for Eucumbene, which is actually a blueprint used in planning some of the tunnels that make up the Snowy Hydro Scheme in the Australian Alps) I began to think about the loss of very old trees from many of our landscapes and other forms of degradation of nature, habitat and soil that have occurred, and so my tree forms became fallen.
You can see a review of the show here, and it will be on at Megalo until April 30. Keep an eye on the Megalo Facebook page; it seems like a number of us will be giving an artist talk in the gallery at 2pm on the last day (Saturday April 30) but that’s not quite confirmed yet.
September 3, 2015
This blog may well have been in a state of inaction, but believe me I haven’t ! A new solo show titled The Endless Transience of Being opens tonight at Megalo Print Studio & Gallery. Every show is important of course, but this one feels especially so. It’s my first solo show in Canberra (where I currently live) since 2012, and the first big showing of a new body of work since a rather serious crisis of confidence and subsequent withdrawal from making much new work through 2013 and 2014. Many artists suffer from a lot of uncertainty about the value of their own work, and whether it will be perceived by others in a way that even remotely matches how they themselves see it and its meanings. The more personal the work, the greater the existential risk of course. Well so far the feedback I’ve had on this show has indicated that the way other people interperate the work is quite within the bounds of where I wanted it situated, and if anyone has decided on the basis of the show that I might be a bit unhinged, they’ve kept it to themselves!
Noted art historian Sasha Grishin has published a review in the Canberra Times here.
McLean enjoys velvety blacks which have been pushed back with a cloth and brush to release brilliant contrasts, where white forms appear with an almost hypnotic intensity and develop a ghostly presence. Within this grid of monotypes there are some stark and beautiful images including Sacred grove and Fallen feather, which have a crispness of definition, while at the same time a certain sophisticated abstraction. It is this quality of something existing and being present, but within an undetermined passage of time, that seems to be implied in the title of one continuous meditation on the “transience of being”. The mood of the whole installation is slightly melancholic and sombre with rocks, water and the naked human flesh appearing as recurring elements. The whole installation could be interpreted as a young man’s meditation on being and time with a considerable dose of passion, angst and high romanticism.
I’m pretty happy with that!
July 23, 2015
These rough and ready quick chalkboard sketches were all done in one fairly short brainstorming session last night. I’ve got a solo show coming up soon, and want to make the main wall a grid of monotypes. I have a set of nine that I have shown before, as a single line of prints, but now I want to extend that series further and make a grid. The decision to hold the show was something of a short notice thing, and so now I’m planning on being quite busy with new monotypes over the next month. Hence returning to the chalkboard for brainstorming white drawings which mimic the way I like to make monotypes. Although I only had yellow chalk available for this lot. Had a reasonably successful printing day today and made four prints, of which two might make it into the show. I started with “Luna” from last nights ideas, as something not too difficult to warm up on, and then a different image entirely not featured in the chalkboard drawings. Not a bad start I think.
November 4, 2014
I’ve been busy making some new small works especially for the annual Maleny Printmakers Collectables show. For details see http://malenyprintmakers.com/ or www.facebook.com/malenyprintmakers
May 15, 2014
I thought it was time I announced to readers that I have been developing a new website. This blog will stay as a platform for news and random happenings, but I wanted to also have an internet presence that was a more formal portfolio of work. So with some financial assistance from the Australia Council for the Arts, and the help of the good people at specialist webhosts Artspere, I made it happen. Well almost. Plenty of uploading of images and information still to go, but petermclean.com.au is live and ready for viewing!
May 3, 2014
Weekend Workshops Coming up
One of my favoured printmaking techniques is of course wood engraving, the means of creating detailed graphic images which was once so commonplace it was used to illustrate everything from bibles to newspapers. Technology has long since passed on from the days when commercial printing was done from hand carved blocks wood. But there are a few of us around who love to preserve these archaic methods, while putting them into a contemporary context, and for me it is a pleasure to share what sometimes seems like forgotten knowledge. So it is time again to offer some weekend workshops in wood engraving. I am visiting Sydney at the moment, and will be sharing this technique with students at the National Art School, and while I am here I am also offering a weekend workshop in Newcastle hosted by the Newcastle Printmakers Workshop on May 17/18. Click on the link for more info. After I return to Queensland, I’ll be offering the same course in Brisbane, at the newly opened studios of Impress. That will be 28/29 June. I look forward to seeing you there.
December 23, 2013
The Grey Gums on the Woodford Fstival Site are looking splendid in their new orange bark. Many Eucalypts shed their bark annually, often revealing quite a different appearance to the older bark, which in this case is grey if you are wondering why such a colourful tree would be called a Grey Gum.
December 18, 2013
Woodford Folk Festival is a major event on the summer calendar here in SE Queensland and I am currently on the festival site as a volunteer with the set up crew. As I said, this isn’t a small festival, and there are 200-300 people working on site, most of them volunteers, over a period of several weeks. The site is extensive and pleasingly complex, with hills and valleys, creeks and forests, along with the proliferating array of tents, marques and other temporary structures being built. There is lots happening, lots of bustle, lots of busy people doing all sorts of things. There is fun and socialising too, and with many of the volunteers having skills as musicians, artists, dancers, firetwirlers and jugglers and who knows what else, there is quite a creative atmosphere with plenty of interesting spontaneous things going on. So, one day when I managed to have a bit of quite time by myself in amongst all of this, I decided to create something in this lovely little creek-line that I pass on my way to my shifts in the workers kitchen. A small bridge crosses the little creek, giving a nice view of the small pool nestled at the base of a large tree, and that seemed like the right place to highlight with some bright red leaves from a Blue Quandong tree at the back of the kitchen. It began as a line, which wound it’s serpentine way amongst the stones and reached the gravel bank and became a spiral. This was the order of creation, but looking at the finished work, this was clearly working backwards, the leaves telling me to seek back to the source. So this piece is about beginings, about creation, about order and design loosing it’s constraints as it interacts with the environment and follows a natural pathway of flow as it’s energy is distributed and dissapated.
September 28, 2013
I’m feeling a bit exhausted so I wont write much just now, but In The Wilderness opened tonight at Glen Innes Art Gallery. I lived in Glen Innes for six years and so it was very nice to come back and exhibit here again. The last time I had a solo show here was 2008, so it’s been quite a while, and I’ve never shown in the purpose built Glen Innes Art Gallery, which I was on the founding committee of back in the day when we were still trying to make it happen. I’ll try and write some more soon, but for now just a couple more install shots from the centerpiece of the exhibition which was a series of nine monotypes (76x56cm).