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Valerie McLean

Valerie McLean
  • Work
  • Biography
Valerie McLean is an Artist, Educator, Mentor and Art Writer. She teaches Studio Practice and Visual Culture at Edinburgh College of Art and is Course Leader for a yearlong Painting Course at Leith School of Art. She is a professional member of Visual Arts Scotland.

Working from life, memory, imagination, drawings and photographs her paintings have roots in diverse landscapes and are concerned with probing the visual and conceptual relationships which emerge in the juxtaposition of opposing pictorial tropes and methods of paint application. Drawing references from 19th century romanticism she brings together the dream like and the everyday and focuses specifically on how the materials of paint and visual imagery can create worlds where opposing elements, such as order and chaos, abstraction and figuration, dwell together. She often builds up an image from a number of separate panels and thinks of these works as self-portraits where she is able to explore different aspects of herself and her engagement with materials.

Her most recent paintings are an in-depth exploration of place. In these new paintings spontaneous and abstract elements arise from an improvisational use of materials, colour, mark, and shape alongside more considered and ‘realistically’ rendered forms. She is interested in allowing the work to take its own course, welcoming the unforeseen and unpredictable, while drawing on the felt and observed experiences of spending significant periods of time walking and exploring the natural landscape both near her home, on the outskirts of Edinburgh, and further afield.

Selected Group Exhibitions:-
2024 - Selected for John Muir Trust, 'Creative Freedom' exhibition
2024 - VAS 'Then and Now: 100 Years of Visual Arts Scotland' - RSA
2023 - SSA 125th Annual Exhibition - The MacLauren Art Gallery (Recipient of Detail Gallery Award)
2023 – RSW 142nd Annual – RSA
2022 – SSA 130 Years Annual – RSA
2021 – VAS ‘Flow’ Online – RSA
2020 – PAI 132nd Annual ‘Online’
2020 - SSA ‘Small Works’ - RSA
2019 - VAS ‘Alight’ - RSA
2010 - Hidden Door- Roxy, Edinburgh
2009 – LSA 20th Anniversary, invited artist
2008 - Second Nature Hosted by Richard Demarco, Skateraw
2006 - RGI Christmas Postcards, Invited artist, Kelly Gallery
2006 – RGI 145th Open Annual, ‘The Heart of Art’, panel selection,
2006 – PAI 118th Annual
2006 – North Ayrshire 10th Open Art

Solo Exhibitions:-
2018 – Wishworlds: Real, Imagined and Remembered, LSA
2011 – Immanence Boiling, LSA

2022 – Andrew Mackenzie – ‘Dusk’ &Gallery – Catalogue Essay
2014 - An Aesthetics of Expanded Awareness: Art Making, and Experiencing, within an Ettingerian Framework – presented at Psyart conference, Porto 2013. Selected for publication 2014 in Analyses of Cultural Productions: Papers of 30th Conference of Psyart Porto, 2013.
2011 – Practice Disrupting Theory: Art Rethinking the Subject – Amsterdam School of Cultural Studies Workshop - Practicing Theory: Imagining, Resisting, Remembering in 2011 – published in ASCA Practicing Theory Reader

Education (Art Related):-

2021 MPhil (Art) ECA
2010 BA Hons Fine Art (First), ECA
2006 Art Foundation Course LSA – Distinction
1986 MA Hons – University of Glasgow

• Katherine Michaelson Prize for writing 2010, ECA
• Andrew Grant Bequest Scholarship 2010, ECA studio work
• Andrew Grant Travel Scholarship June