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INHERITED MEMORIES – by John McCLenaghen

Published on 23 August 2021

Our Summer Group exhibition, ‘THIS SUMMER 2021’ (August 7 – September 18) presents work by regular exhibitors alongside a collection of rural Stirlingshire landscapes by our new featured artist, John McClenaghen

Born in Falkirk in 1964, McClenaghen initially studied Fine Art at the Glasgow School of Art (1983-87) alongside the likes of Alison Watt OBE FRSE RSA and Simon Laurie RSW RGI. McClenaghen’s work can be found in private collections the world over. Yet it was only recently that he substantially reduced his teaching commitment after twenty years as Fine Art Programme Leader at Glyndŵr University, in order to focus on painting.

Being the grandson of a ploughman (and nephew to a shepherd and grieve) meant frequent visits from Falkirk to this very different world. And thus an attraction to rural Stirlingshire has been with the painter since childhood.

This collection of intimate landscapes is particularly significant because it took shape during the last few weeks and days of his mother (Maisie’s) life. As he listened to her childhood memories of growing up on the farm, they mingled with his own. The result was a visual celebration of their rural heritage, nature’s abundance and the cycle of life.

 

The paintings in this collection were largely executed outdoors, close to where his mother’s farm once was. By taking the time to directly absorb what is in front of and around him, he not only captures the energy and dynamism of the living landscape, but also his inherited and half-remembered memories of a world now gone.

To see the breathtaking vitality of McClenaghen’s work is to be reminded of Joan Eardley’s late output. For both artists, painting is a way of keeping pace with nature, spatially, temporally and emotionally. To use McClenaghen’s own words: ‘Through the rhythm of work I am trying to move from the representation of something seen to the reconstruction of something felt.’

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