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John McClenaghen

Portrait of John McClenaghen by Lorna J Bates 300dpi 1920p 26th July 21.jpg

About the work.


These paintings are a celebration of nature’s abundance and of the cycle of life.


I am the Grandson of a ploughman and nephew to a shepherd and a Grieve, or farm foreman and my way of looking at 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.

I studied Fine Art at the Glasgow School of Art in the 1980’s where in the first year my head spun with all the possibilities this education offered in the interactions of materials, of colour, line and a diversity of media creating synergies with my surroundings through which I genuinely found a new way of seeing the world. I explored drawing on a monumental scale, mixed media and assemblage even film, eventually returning to painting with a new found wonder at its uncanny ability to capture the sensations and dynamism of the world around us and to relate human experience.


The land offers a rich visual history of what we leave behind. This is a material history that can be touched as your brush follows a line of fence posts or the outline of some farm buildings. It’s a tapestry of lives of so many organisms including ourselves, all reshaping what we encounter there. But how do you paint something like that?


Something must form there in that surface conversation. I believe I only start to see a place properly as I draw or paint it. It’s not there in my head before I go out into the field and it’s not there in the things I initially see there either. They just get me started. As I move the paint it’s a process of having a conversation with what is going on in a transitory moment in a moving, changing landscape.  Expressing something like that would suggest that the painted surface also needs to also be a moving changing thing.


The wonder I continue to feel alone in the landscape and the way I find I can express it in paint is about the physical contact with a material that, through the rhythm of work can begin to resonate with the physical world and for me that is when painting begins.


In an era dominated by the moving image painting could seem too static a medium to trap the energy and dynamism of a living landscape and the authentic trace of life. But as you are delineating the structure of a hedge or finding the right tone for a line of rooftops something inexplicable is slipping between the layers of actions like an alchemical process changing thought and feeling into material and you have to listen and respond.


I use an extensive range of implements and actions to keep pace with what nature is doing. It’s not simply about picture making, although that plays a part, it’s about finding what it is possible to say and how it is possible to say it in the medium of paint. Through the rhythm of work, I am trying to move from the representation of something seen to the reconstruction of something felt.



John McClenaghen


Born Falkirk 1964



BA(Honours) Fine Art The Glasgow School of Art                                        1983-   1987

PGCE(Further and Higher Education) University of Huddersfield          1996

MA Fine Art the University of Liverpool and the University of Chester                                                                     2009

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy                                                       2007

PhD   “Looking for Shadows with a Torch” (in progress)    



Fidra Fine Art, Summer Exhibition                                                    June- Sept           2023

Summer Exhibition, Roger Billcliffe Gallery, Glasgow                      June/July           2023

“Verdance”, The Watermill Gallery, Aberfeldy                                  March             2023

The Strathearn Gallery, Spring Exhibition                                         March             2023

Fidra Fine Art, Land and Sea                                                             February           2023

Heriot Gallery, Land and Sea 2                                                         February           2023

Roger Billcliffe Gallery, Postcards from 2023                                   January           2023


Featured Artist, Green Gallery Summer Exhibition                           May                2022

The Strathearn Gallery, Winter Exhibition                                        November           2022

Eion Stewart Fine Art, Autumn Exhibition                                        October           2022

The Lemond Gallery, Winter Exhibition                                            October           2022


Summer 2021, White Fox Gallery                                                                            2021

Return to Light, Coast Gallery Dunbar                                                                     2021

All Summer Long, Fidra Fine Art, Gullane                                                                2021

Spring 2021, Morningside Gallery, Edinburgh                                                         2021

Spring show, Green Gallery, Buchlyvie and Dollar                                                  2021

Four Landscape Artists, The Lemond Gallery, Glasgow.                                          2021

Autumn Serenade, Eion Stewart Fine Art, Stonehaven                                           2020

Winter Exhibition, The Russell Gallery, London                                                       2020

Summer Exhibition, The Russell Gallery, London                                                    2020

Of Night and Light, The Velvet Easel Gallery, Portobello, Edinburgh                     2019

Early Summer, Rowan Gallery, Helensburgh                                                            2019

The Listening Hill (solo exhibition), The Bingley Gallery                                         2018   

Fully Awake, Part One, Blip,Blip,Blip, Leeds                                                             2017

Moving Minds, Oriel Sycharth                                                                                  2016

Carbon Meets Silicon, Oriel Sycharth, Wrexham                                                     2015

Facing North, Storey Institute Gallery Lancaster                                                      2015

Play Serious, 2022NQ, Manchester                                                                          2012

Wrexham Print Internationa,l Oriel Wrecsam                                                          2011

Distance 2 Sofia, Academia Gallery, Sofia, Bulgaria                                                2011

Y Lle Celf, National Eisteddfod of Wales                                                                 2011

Relocation, Oriel Sycharth, Wrexham                                                                      2010

Facing North (touring exhibition), Storey Institute Gallery Lancaster                     2009

Distance, Avenue Gallery, University of Northampton                                            2010

Seeing Walls, Vanguard Gallery, Shanghai, China                                                   2007

On the Brink, Gallery ZPAP, Krakow, Poland                                                           2006

Borderlines Gallery Bielska, Bielsko Biala, Poland                                                   2006

Communicating Space, (solo exhibition,) the Gascoigne Gallery, Harrogate           2004

Beneath a Changing Sky, (solo exhibition), Maidenbridge Gallery                         2003

Gallery Representation


Currently represented by a number of galleries located throughout the UK including:



Book Chapters

Allen, J and Rowles, S (ed.) (2016) Professional Practice 20 Questions, Q-Art publications, London

Against Production in Hartshorne I, Quaife M, Moloney D (ed.), (2017) Teaching Painting: How Can Painting Be Taught in Art Schools? Black Dog publications, London).


Exhibition Publications

Fully Awake at Blip,Blip,Blip Leeds                                                                 2017

Y Lle Celf, National Eisteddfod of Wales catalogue                                                  2011

Wrexham Print International catalogue                                                                    2011

Distance 2 Sofia, National Academy of Art, Sofia/Beehive Press                             2010

Distance, Avenue Gallery, Northampton, Beehive Press                                           2010

Facing North, Maiden Bridge Arts Centre                                                                 2008

Seeing Walls, Arts council Wales, Vanguard Gallery Shanghai                                2006

Borderlines exhibition catalogue, Gallery Bielska BWA, Bielsko-Biała,                     2005


Works Held in Collections

Maiden Bridge Gallery


University of South Western China


Vanguard Gallery, Shanghai

Hospital Arts Trust

Glyndwr University

Cunningham District Council



Conference Papers


McClenaghen J. and McHugh C. Between Hands, Painting as a Negotiated Space

Austerity, Adversity, Art?

National Association for Fine Art Education,

University of Wolverhampton (2018)


McClenaghen, J and Liggett S.  It Wasn’t What I Thought I Was Making               

The Hidden Curriculum, National Association for Fine Art Education (2016)

London Metropolitan University.

McClenaghen, J. Against Production at Teaching Painting, a Conference.

The Whitworth Art Gallery & Manchester Metropolitan University (2015)    


Other Professional Subject Engagement


Teaching Painting, an Organisation, Steering Committee Member                        2016-

Society of Scottish Artists                                                                                        2019-

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