Melbourne Now countdown – day 97

Melbourne artist Alasdair McLuckie will present a series of new works in Melbourne Now. Elaborating an intoxicating brew of analytical cubism, voodoo modernism, neo-folk and craft traditions, his beaded paintings and graphic sculptures involve drawing, sculpting and crafting to explore and reinterpret themes of traditional folklore, tribalism and ritual. We caught up with him recently in his studio at Gertrude Contemporary.

JD:  A lot of your work involves beading. Can you tell us about where your interest in this medium came from?

AMcL: I actually learnt how to bead on a loom from my father. My dad has always had an interest in primitive cultures, and because he was creative also (an architect by trade) as a way of understanding these interests he taught himself some of the old creative process, including loom bead weaving.

I grew up with a real appreciation for these cultures and their craft. That then became my own, potentially inherited, interests and inspirations. It was very present in informing my aesthetic sensibilities when I was studying, and is still very much part of my practice, be it through material, process or concept.

JD: Your work also seems to merge together two and three-dimensional qualities in interesting ways. The new ‘Sculpture People’ works are a good example.  Can you tell me a bit about how these have come about?

AMcL: Because the beadwork has been such a prominent part of my practice this year, and is such a repetitive and time consuming process to undertake, I’ve found that over the past five or so years whenever I’m beading, I inevitably get to the point where I need to engage with the drawing part of my practice, as a sort of liberated creative activity away from a needle and thread.

This was the initial catalyst of the new drawing works ‘Sculpture People’, the drawings became three dimensional in response to the binder board that I found and am drawing directly onto. There’s an almost inherent structural form to the material that I was interested in that doesn’t exist in working on paper, that I just allowed to be part of the works.

JD: There’s an interesting relationship to modernism in your work – evident in what you might call a neo-cubist or even neo-primitive sensibility. How would you describe it?  


AMcL: Yes, as I mentioned before that engagement with primitive art was a real driving force while I was studying and in my work after leaving art school.

Until, and I don’t know exactly how or why, I started to become interested in Picasso, about two years ago. And was pleased to discover, not only a powerful new resource of purely aesthetic delights, but that modernisms early concerns we’re in part also informed by primitive art. There’s something comforting in finding, seeing, realising, these common threads or synchronicities personally and historically.

But mostly in my practice I feel I work as instinctually as in any other way, I just respond to looking and thinking about what I’m drawn to, and often, once its put together, in hindsight even, the commonality can be seen.

JD: Thanks Alasdair. We look forward to seeing your work in Melbourne Now in November.

Alasdair McLuckie graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts with a BA in Fine Art in 2007 and has exhibited widely and has received numerous including the Art & Australia / Credit Suisse Private Banking Contemporary Art Award in 2012, the Veolia Primavera Acquisitive Award in 2011 and the 2008 City of Melbourne Young Artist Grant. McLuckie is currently a studio resident at Gertrude Contemporary.