Posts Tagged ‘drawings’

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!

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.

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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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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exhibition extended

January 19, 2013

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In Place’, an exhibition of drawings, prints and artist books, continues at Brisbane Institute of Art.  The BIA have just asked me to extend the show, so it will now continue for another two weeks beyond the initially advertised finish date, until Feb 6.  So if you are in Brisbane and looking for something to do, and some great art to see, then come along to the gallery in the northside suburb of Windsor. I will be in the gallery on Saturdays (as I am right now as I write) if you’d like to get the full guided tour or ask any tricky questions.  I do rather enjoy meeting the varied people who have an interest in art, like the tradie who was driving past on his round of inspections and giving quotes this morning who noticed the gallery open sign so paused his schedule to take a look, and the people doing some great art classes here at the BIA today.

Wollemi Cliffs, soil, charcoal, bone powder and relief print on canvas, Peter McLean, 2013

Wollemi Cliffs, soil, charcoal, bone powder and relief print on canvas, Peter McLean, 2013

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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chalkboard

December 4, 2012


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I’ve made a new chalkboard which is a little more manoeuvrable than the last one on an old door.  Today I made the first drawing on it and here it is.  It depicts a scene inspired by my explorations in Wollemi National Park recently.  Well, more than inspired by, it represents quite a specific spot.  From Newness Campground, the main Pipeline Track led off downstream along the Wolgen River.  I followed an unsigned side track, that led off through the ruins of what must have been the fancier houses attached to the old oil refining works.  Now only sandstone  chimneys remain, like strange trunks amongst the forest.  The track dwindles, as it traces up a creek line which becomes increasingly densely forested, with high cliffs looming overhead on both sides.  In parts the track becomes difficult to follow, but after tracing it up and down several times in the days I was there, I can confidently follow it to it’s end, which is the place depicted here.  A truly magical spot, especially the first time you see it.  The deep narrow gorge, filled with high forest, is rather dark, cool and calm, oblivious to the sun filled and windy weather above.  Here the cliff on one side is particularly shear – glowing orange up above in the afternoon sun, but with a deep recess at the base.  Carved over the ages, by the smallest of ephemeral watercourses, is a great tube-like, vertical chute.  It carried no water on the day I was there, not even a dripping, but instead it shone a column of soft reflected light onto the circular, sand-filled depression at its base.  In the gloom of the forest it was like an enchanted stage, lit at just this time of day, waiting for the arrival of some cosmic actor.

I have photographs, though none look anything like this drawing.  It was one of those places that was too large, yet at the same time close and intimate, to capture in one frame.  This chalkboard drawing is instead based on a pen drawing from my notebook, made on that first days visit.  Even in my sketch, there was a figure at the base of the chute, although I was there alone.  I’m not entirely sure why I inserted the figure, perhaps to help with scale, but when it came to doing the chalk drawing, I certainly wanted to retain it, something to make the image more lively, and excentuate that point of focus at the base of the chute.  The figure I had drawn was a rather generic standing silhouette, and really not sufficient, so I started browsing books for another pose.  I soon settled on the works of William Blake as a good point of departure.  When I saw “Albion Worshiping Christ” I knew I had the right one.

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Albion Worshiping Christ is one of the plates from Blake’s epic work Jerusalem , a book of 100 etched and hand coloured plates that took 16 years to produce.  My drawing has omitted Christ, to be replaced by the wonders of nature, so it seemed a rather fitting choice.  Of course my chalkboard drawing is only meant to be a temporary sketch, and the landscape elements did come fairly easily.  The figure, however, was a labour.  I re-did it many times, and also extra sketches on black paper.  The more I worked on it, the less it looked like one of Blake’s cosmic men, and the more it looked like a distorted half man/half frog, perhaps by Francis Bacon! (I love the work of Francis Bacon by the way, but it really wasn’t what I was trying to achieve in this instance.  I hope I get the chance to see the show on at Art Gallery of NSW)  Eventually I stopped trying to force the figure into the particular scale and position where I though it should be, and instead let it and my hand have their way, and Albion came out twice as big, as he kept wanting to, over and over.  He still took quite a bit of fiddling – perhaps I was trying to achieve too much with a piece of chalk and an eraser.

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wollemi cliffs

October 15, 2012

‘Morning Cliffs’ , charcoal on grey stonehenge, Peter McLean, 2012

 

Once again it’s been a long time between posts.  Lots has been happening since the last one, from  teaching a wood engraving workshop with the Newcastle Printmakers Workshop, to Sydney and catching some of the Biennale.  Then there was lots of time out in the bush, with plenty of walking and exploring and drawing.  The above drawing was made in the majestic campground at Newnes, on the edge of Wollemi National Park, home of the rare Wollemi Pine.  It was hard to stay focused on my drawing instead of watching the wombat wombling it’s way around camp, especially when it bumped into the big Goana making it’s way along the creek bank, but the shadows were changing fast as the sun rose and the frosty morning quickly turned to a hot day.  From there it was a slow trip back to Queensland, via time in the Warrumbungles, the Pilliga Scrub and Mt Kaputar – all very different and fascinating in their own ways.  Now it’s off out bush again, this time into the coastal forests between Grafton and Coffs Harbour, so posts will probably stay sparse for a while yet, but I’ll try and fill in the gaps with some more pictures soon.

Fog and Fault Lines

July 22, 2012

Tomales Bay, relief print, Peter McLean, 2011

The Great Northern adventure is not quite finished (a few days left in Helsinki), but it is time to cast my mind back to California as I will be showing the work created there last year at Fog and Fault Lines, a new exhibition at Megalo Print Studio and Gallery in Canberra.  I was invited to participate in the JB Blunk Residency by the Lucid Art Foundation, located in Inverness, West Marin, and spent two productive months there.   Actually, I often cast my mind back to California, and Inverness in particular.  I felt so at home there, like that place and I were really beginning to understand each other, especially the hills and forest around JB’s very special house.  The prints and drawings that will be shown in Megalo’s gallery still make me feel like I am looking into the eyes of the spirits of the land, speaking to me with a voice I can’t quite understand.

The show will be opening on August 2 at 6pm and will run until August 18.  Megalo is at 49 Phillip Avenue, Watson, ACT, Australia and is open Tuesday to Saturday 9.30am – 5.00pm.

 

natural characters

July 1, 2012

‘Natural Characters’, Drypoint and Collograph in 32 parts, Davis Wills and Peter McLean, 2012.

It was a big push to get all our printing done on time, but we made it, and here is the final install of ‘Natural Characters’, our collaborative project of drypoint and collograph prints.  32 panels in all with each one 20×20 cm.

Sadly, today is the last day in the Artist in Residence house in Fiskars.  We had a lovely open studio/exhibition Friday night, and quite a few of the locals came along to see what we had been doing.  It turned into quite a late night with the grilling of moose sausages over a fire sometime around midnight.  Saturday was spent doing the things we’d been meaning to do for the month but had somehow missed, like the museum, the Desico candle shop, the Fiskars Company shop, and one last cinnamon bun with some of our new friends from Fiskars.

 


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