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Telling Tales


Wed 13 Nov 2013, 9:30am–5:30pm
Thu 14 Nov 2013, 9:30am–5:30pm
Fri 15 Nov 2013, 9:30am–5:30pm
Sat 16 Nov 2013, 10:00am–4:30pm
Sun 17 Nov 2013, 11:00am–4:00pm

Where: Artis Gallery, 280 Parnell Rd, Parnell, Auckland

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Admission: Free

Listed by: Artis

John McLean’s paintings have been described as Pseudo-Surrealist, drawing on a rich visual vocabulary that is inspired by his early foray into landscape painting and the north Taranaki countryside.

Fascinated by Jungian notions, McLean explores the individual and collective unconscious and the age-old archetypes of humanity that are found in folklore, myth and traditional tales, to illuminate personality and narrative.

Telling Tales is a collection of three narrative painting series within McLean’s body of work. The three series are comprised of: Springheel Jack, the Hunters and Whalers & the Fishers series. The Springheel Jack series is based on an eccentric, ascetic figure from McLean’s Tauranga boyhood whose real name was Michael Hodgkins (nephew of Frances Hodgkins.) Renowned as a naturalist, he was a distinctive character with long, lank grey hair - in an era of short back and sides - invariably shirtless in an old pinstripe suit, with horny toenails protruding from his sand shoes. He shared his knowledge with interested children and dispensed nature specimens from a sack.

In keeping with McLean’s propensity for using characters in a metaphoric manner, he used Springheel Jack in the nature of a latter day saint, St Francis of Assisi; a figure who stands for linkage and harmony with our natural world. Springheel Jack’s fanciful portrayal lifts him from literal interpretation into symbolic reference.

The Whaler works are from a series that recognises Pakeha cultural origins within the early bi-cultural engagement between whalers and traders with Maori, during the pre-settlement of New Zealand. The chief protagonist through this series is The Whaler's Son, who represents the first bi-cultural child who is destined to carry the allegorical sequence forward.

The exhibition, Telling Tales, at ARTIS Gallery will feature key representative works from all three series.

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