Archive for the ‘exhibitions’ Category

Bonsai and Monotype

April 21, 2016

eucumbene

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.

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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.

The Endless Transience of Being

September 3, 2015

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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!

Collectables show – Maleny Printmakers

November 4, 2014

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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

New show opened

September 28, 2013

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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).

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In The Wilderness

September 6, 2013

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chalkboard 002

August 16, 2013

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You will recall, that I made myself a new chalkboard way back last summer.  The idea of the chalkboard is that it is a way to ‘free up’ drawing practice.  By using such an inherently ephemeral medium, not intended to be kept as a finished ‘work’ takes away all sense of anxiety over how a proposed drawing might turn out.  Trouble is, this process does its job all too well and so I end up making a drawing I like and wish I could keep.  So, this drawing was made last summer, and has just now been washed off, but not before a new version has been produced as a woodcut.  A woodcut is of course a very different medium to a chalk drawing, and so off course they are quite different images.  To see the woodcut, you had better take yourself along to the next show at The Left Hand Gallery in Braidwood, NSW.  Open on weekends, 24/25 August, 31 Aug/1st Sept, 7/8 Sept.  As Julian Davies, the resident curator at The Left Hand says of relief prints, “Once something is sliced away it cannot be put back. This is way of making pictures that asks for daring and imagination.” So the antithesis of a chalkboard really.

 

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libris awards

May 11, 2013

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Opening tonight at Artspace Mackay in North Queensland is the annual Libris Awards for artist books.  I hear this is the biggest show yet with work from over 90 artists selected. The work I have in the show is titled “Bone Sequence II”, and is of course the second book of this type that I have made from a sequence of prints taken directly from an animal bone.  A third is slowly underway.

 

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How do you print from bone you ask?  In essence, I treat the bone as if it was a wood engraving block.  Careful sanding with fine grade carborundum paper creates a polished flat surface, acting as a section through the bone and revealing detailed intricate structures within.  I don’t need to do any further shaping or carving, I’m just there to reveal what is already present.  This flat surface then has printers ink applied with a roller, and an impression transferred to paper.  Again, my work with wood engraving told me how to go about this in a way that would capture the greatest possible detail with the greatest possible clarity.  The process is repeated many times, creating a sequence of ‘samples’, which coincidentally turns the whole bone into dust.  Collated into a book, these images, one per page, act as a model or analogue for the real object now destroyed in the process.  In the above image you see the strong black image printed on translucent paper, showing the receding shadowy hints of the subsequent pages beneath.  Perhaps this process is also an analogue for human culture and society.  The more ‘advanced’ we become, the more our ability to obtain and collate knowledge of the world increases, the quicker we destroy it.

 

Artspace Mackay Libris Awards will be showing until June 30 2013.

Diversity in Print

March 7, 2013

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Last night saw the opening of Diversity in Print an exhibition of prints at the Royal Queensland Artist Society gallery on Petrie Terrace (Brisbane).  I’m in Sydney teaching at the moment so couldn’t get to the opening of course, but the good people there phoned to tell me I had been awarded a second prize for the wood engraving Forest Tunnel shown above.  This print was one of the ones I made in California, while at the JB Bunk residency.  I particularly like the crispness of the printed bark, that I had carefully retained on the block of birch wood as I cut and polished it prior to carving the image.  This print also makes use of  hand printing with a banana leaf barren in such a way as to produce subtleties of tone through the controlled use of variable pressure.  I’m glad to have been able to represent the somewhat neglected art of wood engraving in a show called Diversity in Print.

The show is on until 23rd March at 162 Petrie Terrace, Brisbane.

last days for ‘In Place’

February 7, 2013

There are only a couple of days left of my exhibition In Place at Brisbane Institute of Art.  It is by far the biggest show I have put on to date, with 63 items listed in the catalogue, including prints, drawings and artist books. I will be in the gallery again on Saturday from 10-4 if anyone wants to come and ask questions, hear my spiel, or bring me tasty treats like Cecily and Elliot did last week – thanks so much, it was very yummy.

A few more gallery install shots for those who couldn’t make it.

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wunderwall

January 31, 2013

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If you find yourself in the Netherlands over the next couple of weeks, and looking for some great art to enthral the senses, then head to SBK Dordrecht Gallery 180 to see the latest Wunderwall installation by David Wills titled The Giraffe Travelled in a Backpack.  David’s Wunderwalls are immersive experiences, sure to delight and amaze.  You will wonder how on earth he discovered so many sights, ordinary and extraordinary, to capture the spirit of the city during a two month stay.  Opens 8pm January 31.

Galerie 180
SBK Dordrecht
Voorstraat 180
3311 ES Dordrecht
Tel: 078-631 89 13


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