Over the course of his career Glasgow-born artist Bruce McLean has been exhibited at many of the country’s most esteemed galleries, including Tate Modern, The Institute of Contemporary Art and Whitechapel Gallery. The colours and forms in his work informed much in the Tautz Spring Summer 2016 collection.
Here Bruce discusses some of our favourite of his artworks.
My wife, Rosy and I have divided our time between our home in London and Minorca since we bought a house on the Spanish island almost 30 years ago. Although Rosy isn’t an artist per se, she is very creative with gardening and has filled ours with plants that don’t require much watering when we aren’t there.
These two screen prints are part of a large collection of impressions I have done of our garden in Minorca. Each of the 175cm by 140cm prints take about five hours to complete and I tend to work on about 10 at a time – experimenting with different colours and backgrounds. Once I’ve printed the image I work into it with collage, painting and drawing, so each one is unique.
I started this series in 2011 and continued until about a month ago. The gardening theme has fed into my other work too, such as a piece I am working on called ‘There’s a Qualcast Panther lawnmower in the loft’ for an architecture exhibition called ‘Home’ opening at Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh on April 15. My eccentric father who, for some unknown reason, used to keep a lawnmower in the loft inspired the painting’s name. A friend recently told me that all old men paint gardens, so I guess that means I’m an old man!
These two paintings – the first of a four part series that I am in the process of completing – signify a new working process for me. Here I’ve taken some of my 30cm2 screen prints of building, leaf and plant shadows, which I have accumulated over the years, and blown them up to a scale of 3m2. I’ve then copied the image onto canvas in pencil and used acrylic and oil paint to achieve the colours. This is quite a structured method for me; I usually paint very loosely, beginning a piece of work with no idea of how it will turn out, whereas these works are predetermined.
In 1994 I won a competition with Glasgow City Council to redesign a 600-metre stretch of Argyll Street and its terrible chain stores, which seem to populate the shopping streets of almost every city. The idea was to bring the street to life by coaxing the shops outside, making it a place for parading, performing, positioning, posing and perambulating – a fashion catwalk essentially. Of course the weather in Glasgow is very changeable so I designed a big canvas structure in the form of a grey cloud to act as a rain shield.
Unfortunately, due to a lack of funding, the project was never realised, but I had made about 100 drawings of how the street would look. From these drawings I have since created several artworks and this is one of them. Each one measures about 75cm2 and consists of a collage, which I then photographed and turned into a screen print.