Who: Alasdair McLuckie
What: The Sun As My Witness
When: Until 18 December, 2010
Artist Talk: 11 December, 2010, 2 – 3pm
Where: West Space, Level 1, 15 – 19 Anthony Street, Melbourne

Melbourne artist Alasdair McLuckie was featured in MCA’s Primavera 2010; an annual exhibition (which just finished last month) highlighting outstanding Australian artists in the early stages of their careers. In his artist talk, recorded on MCA’s website, Alasdair talks about the process of creating a 20 panel drawing, The highest mountain peaks right before dawn, after which he couldn’t draw anymore.

Alasdair McLuckieThe highest mountain peaks right before dawn (detail) 2008-2009
Pen on plywood, Collection Artbank Copyright and courtesy the artist.
Image courtesy of MCA / Museum of Contemporary Art www.mca.com.au

Alasdair spent the next year not drawing because it just became too much to work in this manner. In this time he worked with craft techniques, primarily bead weaving using small seed beads. This was also incredibly repetitive and meticulous. It occurred to him that he would drive himself insane if he continued, and so he went back to drawing in his sketchbook as therapy from the beading.

Alasdair’s bead work is currently on display in Gallery 3 at West Space. I have been dying to check out the exhibition, titled The Sun As My Witness, and finally managed to get there this week. It was definitely worth it.

In this work Alasdair explores the craft as a sacred ritual with as much spiritual significance as aesthetic value. West Space says, “The objects born out of this craft are essential devices in the transformation of the physical into the spiritual”.

From the moment I walked into the small gallery at the back of West Space I was taken by the incredible beauty of these sculptures. On the first glass table stood numerous black glass vases showcasing his intricate bead work. It looked perfect and completely faultless. I could imagine the countless hours he must have spent perfecting the technique and obsessing over the detail. The bright colours used, such as fluro pink and green, gave it a contemporary feel but Alasdair’s interest in folk art, and older art, definitely comes through in the technique.

Alasdair McLuckie 2

On the second table black and coloured beads were displayed on clear glass with the same vibrancy. He had also created beaded placemats for the vases to sit on which looked like lions heads or some kind of mythical creature.

While Alasdair’s work appears quite diverse, and the bead weaving very different to his drawings, they are strongly connected by his interest in mythology. Prophecy, apocalyptic prophecy, doomsday cults inspired his biro pen on plywood drawings. He aims to aims to reinvent folklore with his practice and expresses the imagined energies of the cosmos as well as infinite visual possibilities.

If you would like to hear more about Alastair’s practice he is speaking this Saturday 11 December at West Space from 2 – 3pm; along with video artist Layla Vardo and painter Dane Lovett who are both also currently showing their work at West Space.

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