Moray Gallery

Peter McLaren: Atavistic Dreams

5-26 August 2022

At the heart of much of my work lies the idea of 'Nostos' (a Greek word which loosely translates as ‘the ache of not being at home’). 'Home' is more than just a physical location; it's also a symbolic or psychological space. My work is an attempt to navigate between the two.

I am part of the Scottish Diaspora; I was born in Scotland but grew up in New Zealand. The feeling that home is always elsewhere is not something I can easily shake - I am an exile, a stranger in both the land of my birth as well as my adoptive home. That said, I feel that there's a similarity between the Scottish and New Zealand landscapes - particularly the South Island landscape - and this informs much of my work. These landscapes are not depictions of specific locales or 'real' places, but rather half remembered snapshots from a distant past. In the end, for an artist to work from the margins is not necessarily a bad thing.

I don’t use brushes in the traditional sense. I'll attack the works vigorously, then obliterate, a process of applying paint and then wiping back.  I stretch and pull the pigment across the textured surface and the work begins to emerge and reveal itself. I like the idea of chance, allowing it in as part of the creative process. There’s a tension between being in control of the process and letting go.

My work is less about a recognisable reality than it is an attempt to capture a feeling, a fleeting moment. The imagery speaks of things that are there, but not quite there. What is suggested is just as important as what is depicted.