Madeline Mackay: Out of the Land Prints and Drawings

18th February 2014

Exhibition Dates: March 23rd to April 5th 2014

Madeline Mackay’s prints and drawings are attracting wide spread attention.  Brought up in the Flow country of Northern Scotland she engages with a land that is untamed, unpopulated and bleak.  An aspect of her work is her interest in wild birds, exploring the nature of the land through the creatures that inhabit it.

This exhibition brings together a group of prints and drawings relating to birds made over the last three years and draws heavily on her residency on the remote Aland islands located in the Baltic Sea 80 miles off the coast of Finland.  Over a six week period, Madeline immersed herself in this lonely landscape of barren rocks and small skerries accessible only by boat, observing the birds in flight and on the water and their relationship to the natural rhythms of the landscape.

She completed dozens of sketches and drawings often working in difficult conditions perched on a boulder above the waves at the mercy of the constantly changing weather. The cormorants in particular captured her imagination standing for everything that was unpredictable and untamed in the place. These observations have fed back into her collective childhood memories of growing up in Caithness, the remotest, most northern part of mainland Britain.

Madeline uses her images of birds, to personify the complex and delicate ecosystem of these remote places.  She embraces a world still held in the balance of nature where wild life and land meld into a seamless whole.  Her birds are wild, ethereal creatures pushing the boundaries between form and abstraction so at times the images seem to dematerialise into the landscape.  Her distinctive mark making techniques reflect the strata and layers of geological forms and the atmospheric effects of sea and sky.

An inventive and experimental print maker, she combines a wide range of techniques including, etching, lithography, lignography and collography, no two impressions are ever identical.  Printed images are combined with drawing, painting and lettering.  She has experimented using clay pigments combined with ink and print techniques.  Other work includes impressions taken from rocks and boulders and while in Aland she executed a series of works painted directly onto the rocks reaching back to the earliest known images made by man.

For a young artist her work shows great maturity.  An appreciation of archaeology, of an ancient landscape and of the delicate balance between wild life and the land runs through her work.  Later this year she will be working in North West Canada living with the Sambaa K’e community Trout Lake 60 miles from the nearest road.  The community have recently set up a print making facility and continue to live largely off the land by hunting and trapping. Madeline’s work is continually evolving as she sets herself new boundaries and challenges.

Madeline Mackay graduated with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Dundee, in 2012 and  completed an artist-in-residence in Southern Finland. She will spend part of 2014 working with a traditional community in the Northwest Territories of Canada.  She has exhibited widely in both Scotland and England and has been selected for the David Shepherd Wild Life Exhibition, The National Open Art Competion, RSA Young Contemporaries and the RSA Annual Exhibition.  Her awards include RE Anthony Dawson Young Printmaker Award, DSWAY Young and Wild category award and the RSW Alexander Graham Munro Travel Award.