Archive for the ‘art out and about’ Category

woodford spiral flow

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.

lace bark

January 3, 2013



Walking in Conondale National Park recently, one of the many delights to be seen was the large flowers of Lacebark (Brachychiton discolour) trees, scattered on the forest floor.  Lacebark are a large rainforest tree which at this time of year, along with their better known cousins the Flame Tree, are almost leafless but covered in spectacular flower.  Being usually very tall and often emergent from the top of the canopy, it is quite difficult to see the flowers looking up into the tree, but they make an impressive display on the ground when they drop anyway.  The underside of the flower was particularly inspiring with the contrasting dark and light pink, so a little ephemeral land art was in order.



A little later there was an even more spectacular carpeting of flowers beneath one of these forest giants, but it was time to push on with the days walk towards a swim at ‘Artist’s Cascades’.




black mussels

August 17, 2011


Black Mussel shells, Indian Beach, Tomales Bay.


hello california!

August 10, 2011

Posts have been quiet lately, and you probably haven’t seen me around town lately either.  That’s because after much packing and sorting and driving across the countryside (not to mention flying across the oceans) I’ve arrived in Marin County to begin two months at the J.B.Blunk Residency.  So much is new and exciting coming to a new environment for the first time.  I want to describe everything – but that might get tedious.  I’ve been here five days now which has mostly involved settling in, sourcing supplies and a whole lot of hiking on the trails out the front door.  That hasn’t left a lot of time for lots of art making until today when I had a busy and experimental studio day, but I won’t show pics of that just yet.  For the first pics from the residency something simpler and more spontaneous, some circles out on the trails.

I made this circle because the low even light (under a thick foggy sky and a dense scrubby canopy) made these fallen leaves glow most beautifully.  I don’t know what this small tree is yet, but it is fairly ubiquitous around here.  Not actually autumn leaves, but a lot of these trees have shed a lot of leaves recently while still retaining plenty too.  Perhaps they are evergreen and these are last years leaves, shed after the summer growth of new leaves have developed.

Today was sunny and warm all day – the fog lifted early and still hadn’t returned by sunset, which is the first time that’s happened.  I’ll miss the fog if it doesn’t come back soon – I’m sure it will.  For now I made a golden circle of  California Bay leaves for the sunny day on the way back from my now almost habitual afternoon walk up the nearest mountain.

lakeside leaf man

June 6, 2011

It’s been a beautiful autumn in Canberra and this day was one of the best, so I had a ride around the lake, got mesmerized by the glowing Beech trees, and made a little leaf man in a quiet spot by the lake.

feather circle

May 22, 2011

pussy willow

November 4, 2010

Bowral’s first taste of art out and about, on cherry tree walk.

library sticks

September 16, 2010

I was walking past the National Library recently when I saw a pile of sticks – I think maybe the parks workers had been preparing to mow the grass – but hadn’t gotten beyond collecting the sticks.  It was Sunday, it was sunny, I was on my way somewhere but it wasn’t urgent, so I thought I’d better do something with that pile of sticks.   A woven  tent-like structure is what emerged.



lake george happenings

July 22, 2010

Lake Geoge, near Canberra has been getting a lot of attention lately, and as I’ve written about the lake here before I thought it might be a good way to bet back to blogging after I’ve left it dormant for a while (apologies to my regular readers – you know who you are!). What has to be the best public art I’ve seen in a long time appeared on the lake recently and has been drawing a lot of attention from passing motorists. Four life-size and realistic sculptured zebras graze the lake bed in front of one of the rest stops. They were installed by artists, Alan and Julie Aston.

It’s a bit old news now, but earlier in the year Weereewa-A Festival of Lake George, was held on and around the lake and in the nearby town of Bungendore. I was involved in a couple of events. Megalo Print Studio and Gallery mounted an exhibition of hand printed tea towels titled “windwash”. I screenprinted a couple of designs which contributed to the installation of work from many members which stretched some 200 meters out onto the dry lakebed.

Finally, another festival event was a “works on paper” exhibition and prize. After spending some time exploring the lakebed one afternoon, and collecting materials I made a drawing using powdered bone and sediment from the lake on black paper, which won me a joint first prize!

“Lake George”, Peter McLean, powdered bone, lake sediment and acacia gum on paper

cherry leaf wall piece

March 19, 2010

I mentioned in the last post that I used the cut-out stencil to aid in the making of a wall piece.  Below are a couple of pics of the piece, a disintergrating man, made from cherry tree leaves pinned to the gallery wall.  It was shown at M16 Gallery as part of ‘Light Industrial’, a show that resulted from a series of community arts workshops that focused on the industrial site where the gallery and studio complex is located.  While it is mostly bitumen and  sheds, an old weeping ornatmental cherry tree opposite the main door gives a touch of something growing.

Untitled, Peter McLean, 2009, leaves and pins, detail.

Untitled, Peter McLean, 2009. Leaves and pins.

The exhibition was held in the winter, but I had already collected a lot leaves from beneath the cherry tree in the autumn and dried and pressed them so despite being on the gallery wall for several weeks they were quite stable.  There was a powerful dried leaf smell when you were up close to the work too.  It was quite different seeing this type of ppiece on the wall instead of on the ground as I had made them before.  Also, although the work was still temporary, it was not exposed to the elements and prone to blowing apart at any moment like the pieces on the ground.  That’s why I decided I needed to contrive the sense of the image disolving from the base, where I had been making the outdoor work with a complete figure.

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