Posts Tagged ‘bones’

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!

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Chalkboard 003

July 23, 2015

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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.

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.

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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’tis the season…

December 14, 2012

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As well as working on the January show for Brisbane Institute of Art, I’ve also decided to make some of my smaller work available to an audience outside the formal gallery setting, so there are things out there in the world all the time instead of only when there is a show on.  The first isn’t REALLY in the world, just your computer.  I’ve reactivated my long silent ETSY page here, where I have listed some unframed wood engravings and other relief prints.

The other new development really IS out there in the physical world, so if you are in Brisbane, you should check out the In.cube8r Gallery in Fortitude Valley.  It’s the home of handmade gifts in the groovy old Valley (on Brunswick St, one bock up from the mall).  I’ve been making some new collages, like the one above, especially for the in.cube8r store. I always take a lot of trial proofs and extra prints when I am working on my artists’ books featuring direct prints from polished sections of bone.  It’s been a lot of fun to play around with these images, re-arranging elements to create new forms.  They are only small, and mounted directly on small canvases so they are ready to hang without framing, making them the perfect affordable gift !

exhibitions, sooner and later

December 7, 2012
'The Stuff of Life' (detail), Bone powder and Acacia gum on black paper, Peter McLean, 2012

‘The Stuff of Life’ (detail), Bone powder and Acacia gum on black paper, Peter McLean, 2012

The (more or less) annual M16 Drawing prize is on again, and it opens tonight! (That’s Friday December 7th, M16 Artspace, 21 Blaxland Crescent, Griffith, Canberra.)  This is a detail from my entry, a drawing in powdered bone on the ever wonderful Black Hahnemuhle – that’s paper for those not familiar – I’m not sure which is my favourite, Black Hahnemuhle, or Kozo Extra Light.  It’s like trying to compare apples and oranges really.  I’ve only given a glimpse of the drawing, you’ll have to head along to the M16 Gallery sometime before December 21st to see the whole thing, and no, despite appearances and expectations, it’s not a drawing of mountains.  I know a lot of the names on the finalist list, and I’ve no doubt it is a great show that will delight and amaze!

For those who might be in Brisbane come January 2013, I’m currently putting together a new solo show to be held at the Brisbane Institute of Art from January 10-23.  I was drafting some publicity material today, so here’s a sneak preview.  More on In Place soon.

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collections and collecting

November 3, 2012

Detail from ‘Sections of Life’, Artists’ Book, Peter McLean, 2009

 

I’m happy to report that the State Library of Queensland has recently purchased two of my artists’ books to add to their collection.  The library has an extensive collection of artists’ books, all searchable in their online catalogue and available to be viewed on request.  The books added to the collection were “Sections of Life; Black Mountain” which includes a sequence of relief prints taken from a small animal jawbone, and “Drooping Sheoak”, which is a sequence of prints from sections through a Casuarina seed pod.  Both were made in my Canberra days, one associated with walking and camping on Black Mountain, the other Mt Ainslie. The Library also has a copy of the broadside ‘Sky’ which I made with Ampersand Duck.

Meanwhile, I’m currently involved in collecting of a very different kind.  I have joined a crew of professional seed collectors, and we have been working in State Forests in norther NSW, collecting native seed to be used in landscape restoration projects and the like.  We’ve been working hard, and I’ve had little extra time or energy for drawing, but I’ve been taking a lot of photo’s of the processes along the way, to transform clippings from some bushes growing in the forest, into bags of pure seed.  We’re not there yet, and the final stages will be done back at ‘HQ’, but we are working our way through a lot of material.

 

 

open studio

September 27, 2011

Lucid Art Foundation hosted the open house and studio day this past weekend here at the JB Blunk residency.  It feels like the climax of artistic activity, since it was my chance to show what I’ve been doing.  Of course there are still a few things I want to finish in the little time left. I didn’t really manage any pictures of the crowd, since I was too busy talking and doing print demos then, but here are some from my installation.

 

Thanks to everyone who came along!

 

gallery pics

July 29, 2011

Preserved Disintegrations was a great success at The Front Gallery, but alas the show is all packed down again now.  Here’s a few gallery shots for those who weren’t able to make it.


prints from bone

July 10, 2011

Preparations for Preserved Disintegrations continues at pace. Some of the works in the show will feature a new set of prints from bone. Not pictures of bones, but the bone itself used as the relief printing matrix. There is a lot of time spent preparing the bone to make it suitable to print from, and to get clear detailed prints, but I don’t actually carve an image into the bone – the natural form and structure is the image.

Here is the ‘block’ ready to print. What was initially one single bone (a sheep’s pelvis I think) was glued onto a wooden block. It has been ground and sanded down through repeated processes of sanding and printing numerous layers. The narrow bit of wood screwed onto the block forms part of my registration system.

In front here are prints constructed from all of those layers printed one on top of the other – and hence the need for accurate registration. They are hand printed on a yellowy buff Iwaki paper. Barely visible in the background are the book pages printed on white kozo. For the books there is only one impression per page, and so the act of turning the pages mimics the process of gradually sanding the bone down, revealing a modified image at each layer. While only one layer is clearly visible at a time, I’ve chosen a paper that is very thin and a little translucent so you get a sense of the shifting structure laying just below the page which impels the viewer to keep turning and gradually reveal the entire form.


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