Posts Tagged ‘leaves’

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.


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.



June 5, 2012

I collected this new cone from a Norway Spruce tree (Picea abies) on the walk to Pohja, the next town.  I knew it was Spruce, because Fiskars has a tree species trail with examples of all the common species of the area signed with numbers which correspond to a companion brochure, (in English, Finnish, and Swedish) so I’ve been trying to learn to recognise them all.


Sometimes the ex-botanist in me comes to the fore again, and I like to make drawings in a sciency mode – not that I have really followed the rules of proper scientific drawing, but the labels made with my new rubber stamp kit lend an air of formality.  Interesting how closely the colour of the spruce cone matches the deep red of most of the timber buildings here in Fiskars, including all the houses.

pavement graffiti

May 11, 2012

Those who have been following this blog since its early days in 2008, or who have trawled through the archives, will know that my focus sometimes shifts away from the printed image on the page, or the joys of being in the landscape, to be drawn instead to the urban pavement.  In particular, those pavements that are semiotically active.  I received a message today from someone describing herself as a pavement fancier, with similar interests.  Now how could that not pique your interest – a pavement fancier.  On visiting the Pavement Graffiti blog, I quickly realised what a rich seam of social study the pavement can be in the hands of  a dedicated researcher.  Go check it out and I promise, you’ll find there is more to the pavement than you ever expected.  The image above comes from Pavement Graffiti’s travels in Vancouver (click on the image to go to the original post).

ex libris

May 2, 2012

This week saw another long thought-of project finally enacted ; making myself a bookplate, also known as an ex libris.  Bookplates are small printed labels used to claim ownership of ones books.  They have a long history and have been made by commercial publishing houses and prominent artists alike.  I started this small engraving this week during a class I was teaching at Megalo Print Studio.  It wasn’t initially planned as an ex libris, but for somewhat unknown reasons, I left a dark corner.  After proofing, I didn’t like the dark corner and was about to extend the horizontal lines and realised this could be the perfect opportunity to turn it into a bookplate.  I was still a little concerned that black corner was  a little clunky.  After printing a whole bunch of them on Megalo’s lovely Albion Press, I did then extend the lines, and print a bunch of those as well.

While creating and printing the bookplates was fun, the real satisfaction was pasting them into my books today – at least those that I have with me at the moment, which are mostly teaching resources and a few books I’ve been reading recently.  One such book to receive its new bookplate today was Jenny Uglow’s  biography of Thomas Bewick – himself a prolific creator of bookplates.  It’s nice to feel I am continuing a tradition that is a little on the wane.

street fossils

February 7, 2012



I came across a whole bunch of concrete fossils recently, on a wet day in Noosaville.  You know, concrete fossils, those special places in the suburban landscape where traces of leaves and other life has been recorded in the man made lithosphere.  It cheers me just a little that urban man’s efforts at dead, uniform, cheerless surfaces can sometimes be subverted by something as simple as leaves falling on wet concrete.  In this case they were the leaves of Paperbark (Melalueca quinquenervia) which had left their imprint on a meandering footpath in this holiday apartment filled former wetland.

first prints

August 14, 2011

Just in case anyone thinks I’m just hiking the hills and not doing any work at all, here are a few pics from the first days experiments with printing from some of the redly available natural materials that have come to hand so far.

The obvious first place to start seemed to be to mount a sample of Bishop Pine, Pinus muricata, to begin a new ‘sequence book’.  Bishop Pine is one of the main trees in the immediate vicinity and has a restricted range – including here on the Point Reyes Peninsular, and in Baja California, Mexico.  Of course these two locations lie on opposite sides of the San Andreas Fault and were once connected!

California Bay, Umbellularia californica,  is another common species here, growing quite large in the temperate rainforest which forms a mosaic of vegetation types with the rainforest and the pine forest sometimes being quite distinct, and sometimes intermingling somewhat.  Largely to do with fire history I expect.

This piece is printed from a cross section of a large piece of bark.  Probably from a Redwood, but I’ll leave them for another day.

To finish, the view from my printing spot in the studio (note the garden produce by the door, brought to me by my neighbour Rufus).

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.

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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