I was born in Falkirk, Scotland.
I am the Grandson of a ploughman and nephew to a shepherd and a Grieve, or farm
foreman and my way of looking at my main creative subject the landscape has been
informed by being part of a Scottish farming family on my mother’s side. As a child I viewed
my world with wonder, I grew up in a town but my uncles remained in farming and I would
visit them with my parents which felt like moving between two very different worlds,
perhaps heightening my experience of both and providing a way of seeing the world that
remained with me into adulthood.
My work explores weather time and change within the landscape and coast. I am interested
in painting’s ability to relate experience by drawing parallels between the action of light and
weather upon my subjects and the action of colour and mark upon the canvas. Through the
rhythm of work I am trying to move from the representation of something seen to the
reconstruction of something felt.
I almost always work with colour from the outset, something that goes right back to my
time as a student at the Glasgow School of Art. I have always been interested in the
landscape and coast and the ways they are transformed by the changing weather of each
season. I tend to return to the same locations repeatedly as I establish a relationship with
the space over time by working directly from nature. The traces of layers of decisions in the
drawn and painted surface recall changes I see in the landscape itself, the reconfiguration of
structures, shapes, colours and textures reflecting fluctuating physical forms obscured or
revealed by the effects of colour and light, which in turn conveys my physical, emotional and
psychological experience of a place.
I have strong childhood memories of the farms my relatives worked, one of which was on
the east coast of Scotland so my fascination with such places no doubt dates from then.
I studied at the Glasgow School of Art, the University of Huddersfield, University of Liverpool
and the University of Chester and I was until 2020 Programme Leader for Fine Art in the
School of Creative Arts, Glyndwr University. I then went part time in order to focus more of
my time on painting and exhibiting.
I now regularly exhibit and I am currently represented by a number of galleries located
throughout the UK.
I also write about art practice with book chapters recently published by Q-Art and Black Dog,
London and have presented papers on painting at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester
and to the National Association for Fine Art Education.
“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.”
Laura Vida, Scottish Field - 9th August 2021