By Rich Mclean
‘McLean’s evocative drawings, paintings, digital media and multimodal artworks breathe with a life well-lived, a life immersed in the messiness, joy and heartache of contemporary urban culture.’ Anne Harris Principal Research Fellow, RMIT University
People inevitably suffer in complex and often blameless terrible ways. I have been one of those people, consistently inconsistent in ways yet always creative. Creativity and talking is a practice that has seen me through, and I am launching a new art catalogue of my life’s work, and this is a synopsis of how I arrived here:
I identify as a queer bloke who is a psychiatric survivor and have overcome addiction and homelessness, toxic relationships, abuse, ‘psychosis’ the black dog prejudice rejection ostracisation and the woe of existential dread, but art kept me going.
Previously, in my work as a news graphics artist and illustrator for Melbourne newspapers, I never knew if I was designing the news, or in the news having articles published about me, documentaries made about me, or writing as a contributor for big name online blogs and articles. I do remember though clearly as a twelve-year-old lamenting, ‘I want to create not consume’, as I witnessed environmental destruction and the cold war on TV, and it troubled me so.
I’m in the audience clapping, the actor on the stage, the critic, and I’ve also been kicked out the back of the theatre to die – literally – many times and should not be here yet lucky to be as a suicide survivor. I have also just passed a PhD (pending changes!) and launching a lifelong visual journey of my art: ‘A Certain Beauty in Un-Resolution… ART;’. The semi colon is important, because a sentence is your life, a period is the end; and a semi colon means you keep going – your sentence / story is not over.
My PhD examining young people’s ethical opinions of artificial intelligence & quantum AI further enabling posthumanism (add to that framed by global catastrophic risks), I thought might actually kill me; such was the weight of carrying that topic added to my existential grievances. It very nearly did. I made my new art book to outlast my mortal coil, yet now I co-exist with it.
It’s a noncumulative full colour catalogue of hundreds of images, that shows a cross section of my visual language over twenty five years in a resilient way, in the mediums of traditional mark making, digital illustration and the marriage of both techniques, which frames the work in time with technological advances of the time.
Creativity is healing. Art and writing are my forte. In my Doctorate, the conceptual framework leant away from the cult of psychiatry, a symptom of capitalism, and leaning towards the lens of holistic shamanism with the aid of a healer. So much more love there!
The visual language populating my life translates to my work with people on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) – co-creating in a visual way in self reflexivity to optimize and improve people’s experience of life – and I found my groove sharing love and experience beyond the PhD.
Academia is not for me – I like to make things and help people, yet now I value myself enough to accept more than altruism as payment. Society has also changed in the 20 years since my autobiography that people with different abilities, neurodiversity and experiences are more valued.
It’s my joy luck and honor to share my creatives legacies and my complex story of resilience tragedy, hope and creativity whilst working giving people the best chance at having a great life.
I cordially invite you to my website where all this is available to enjoy and scrutinise; and if you’re looking for help for you or someone you know who is on the NDIS to get a leg up with a good dose of light hearted humor and lived experience with secular ethics that hold kindness in the greatest regard-you just found him!
We need as many transformational experiences as we can manage in these shallow neoliberal times. It is my conscious choice of agency to help people in the most authentic of ways, with kindness the highest crystalline currency.
Hell, some people never go mad – what incredibly boring people they are!
Check me out at: www.richmclean.com.au