Will Maclean
13 November 2002 - 23 January 2003
LONDON Main Gallery


Will Maclean is one of the outstanding artists of his generation in Scotland. His art is rooted in his knowledge of the Highlands, the Highland people and their history; and yet he also embraces encounters and histories that originate further afield, from Ancient Greece to North America. Best known for his works that refer to the mythologies and lives of individuals and cultures who live and work by the sea, Maclean's interest is both specific and universal. Profound themes relating to journeys of every kind - exploration, commemoration, navigation and migration - that focus on Man facing the unknown, hang alongside images dealing with  contemporary issues of Man and his environment.

Maclean is highly regarded throughout the UK for his exceptional box constructions. He uses the techniques of collage and assemblage to develop a poetic imagery that is subtle, complex and symbolic. He incorporates an infinite variety of found objects (actual or casts of), resin, paint, ephemera and archival material. He has expanded recently into exploring new (for him) media, particularly bronze and digital animation, that has been enabled by his win of a major Creative Scotland award in 2000.  Cod Requiem is a key note in the exhibition, comprising an atmospheric cod soundtrack and defunct Newfoundland cod-jiggers (hooks/lures) which are animated in a 12 minute projection.  This particular work not only celebrates a fish that continues to be a life sustainer for North Atlantic coastal communities but also touches upon the over fishing and decline of fish stocks.

The sculptures and box constructions reveal Maclean's life-long fascination with museums and their devices of display and classification.  The series Objects of Unknown Use conveys the playful, witty approach that underlies much of his work. The objects are exquisitely made and are imbued with a power and poetry. They are given new identities through an act of metamorphosis. In imagining purposes for them Maclean appeals to the viewer's own experiences, triggering responses from the depths of the subconscious, as if these were from ones' own memories.

Driftworks is Maclean's title for a major body of ongoing work for three major exhibitions, that started at Dundee Contemporary Arts  in November 2001 where it won for him standing ovations from critics, curators and collectors. For its London presentation, Driftworks coincides with the republication of Duncan Macmillan's updated book THE ART OF WILL MACLEAN: Symbols of Survival. (20.00).  The third exhibition will take place at Art First New York in November 2003. The Driftworks catalogue (10.00) is also available.