Posts Tagged ‘feathers’

The Endless Transience of Being

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!

feather circle

May 22, 2011

another feather

November 9, 2008


Another fallen feather.  I think this is from a Gang Gang – a small type of cockatoo.  They are a seasonal presence in Canberra, and I have heard a few about lately (you tend to hear them before you see them – but maybe that’s because I spend a lot of time looking at the ground!)


October 27, 2008

I’m still photographing any feathers I see fallen on the ground. This one is from a Galah (a type of parrot). So why feathers? What’s that supposed to mean. The word ‘fallen’ says it all really. In a way feathers can have a related symbolism to bones, though perhaps not so immediately implying death. There is certainly a melancholy to a fallen feather though. The possibility of autonomous flight has fascinated people for ages – and such a powerful ability relies on these delicate fragile objects that occasionally fall to the ground, where they sit displaying their delicate beauty – until the next rain.

pic of the day

September 14, 2008

semester II begins

July 26, 2008

A new semester started this week and to get things moving, part of the set drawing program is to do a drawing a day.  Thought about doing this many times, but it can be tough on the self motivation skills to get the habit established – and I never have managed.  So having it a set part of the course will be great because I will do it.  I don’t plan to put them all up here but here is yesterdays.  Graphite pencil on pine veneer, and a feather.

A simple little drawing, but I found it rather interesting the way in which it developed.  Found a strip of pine veneer during a  workshop tidy up.  I rather like bits of wood so I claimed it.  At the same time I noticed a feather on the floor – quite how it came to be there I don’t know.  The last couple of months whenever I see a feather on the ground I photograph it, and I’m on the lookout for them now.  Usually I leave them there but this one I picked up.  So then I was playing around arranging the black feather and the light strip of wood spatially on the wall and this is the arrangement I settled on – for no conscious reason.  Then I came to thinking about the days drawing and it seemed obvious to do it on the pine veneer, and of course the obvious thing to draw on it was a pine tree – both because of the material and because it has been a subject I have been using lately and there were photos and prints of pines right there on my desk to refer to.

Now what I find interesting is that having completed the drawing in this seemingly playful, ad hoc sort of way, I realised its relationships to works by Anselm Kiefer that I have looked at before and which turned up in a theory class the day before.

Untitled 1996 Anselm Kiefer

This is the image shown to me this week, but there is another one that I can’t find at the moment where instead of giant sunflowers, withering and bent but full of dark ripe seed,  seeming to grow from the prostrate man, there is a young pine tree.

Time I got off here and did todays drawing.

Untitled, 1996
Anselm Kiefer (GeUnrman, b. 1U945)
Woodcut, shellac, and acrylic on paper, mounUntitlested on canvas; 11 ft. 11 1/4 in. x 8 ft. 1/2 in. (3.6 x 2.4 m)

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