McLean Edwards | Songs from the Ghost Ship

20.05.09 to 13.06.09


McLean’s works are theatrical, comical, eccentric and often political with the employment of symbolic imagery. His painting technique involves a painterly layering to create a defined and textured surface.


In this most recent series, Songs from the Ghost Ship, semi-fictional characters are set against the dark starry night sky. The exhibition includes nine oil paintings in addition to four works on paper. One of the works on paper shares its name with the exhibition, depicting a jumpered man with a white ghost looking over his shoulder.


The ink on paper work introduces a theme prominent throughout the exhibition, that of wafting smoke. Emanating either from a clasped cigarette or an iconic green curled mosquito coil, the smoke, in elegant strokes of white, grey, tan or black, draw the eye to the face of the central figures. The figures, often with the light of the moon or stars behind them only partially illuminating their faces, stare into the distance or coyly at the viewer, almost unaware of their solitary state against the night sky. The coil appears elsewhere, surreptitiously working its way into the dark pink weave of Twiggy’s jacket, or the blue and red dress of Venus, in the tyre marks of the Arctic Traveller or the grassy landscape in Hey, Bastard, Hey. The soft curl and filigree detail of both the smoke and the mosquito coil are similarly echoed by elements in other works, through the organic features of flowers, leaves and bugs.


Adrift at night, these haunting figures are about to embark on a journey, either from the wharf at the edge of an ocean, as in Venus, or across the vast ice of the Arctic, through the mist and smoke.