Susan Edwards: Meghan McLachLan

Meghan McLachLan, ‘Beyond These Walls.’

Within the room, the eye continually returns to the muted blue images. The aged and indistinguishable prints with their tattered edges call for a closer inspection. In that instant, the artist has accomplished the goal; to beckon contemplation, create intrigue and query the work presented.

McLachLan has combined an old photographic process of cyanotype along with digital methods and negative prints. Cyanotype involves photography, painting and printing with the pigment cyan described as “the color of shallow water over a sandy beach.”* Informed by Eva Gore-Booth’s poem, ‘Comrades’, a line in a notebook from Booth’s sister Constance Markievicz, “there is no strength without unity” and influenced by her own family memories of strong females, she produced a blue-printed installation of ordinary and exceptional women.

These are some of the figures we see in the painted cyanotype image, printed on Fabriano paper of variable dimensions. The faceless female bodies are depicted, some of reverse mirror images and various eras suggested by altered clothing styles. An image of a woman, displaying only her forearm resting on a fireplace mantel was that of Constance Markievicz. This was the largest print, arranged in the center, with smaller wallet sized prints surrounding it. To echo the forms of the women, she draped fabric, printed with the cyan blue hue, onto a wooden pole. The effect within the exhibition space was soothing and tranquil. With the range and diversity presented in the degree show, McLachLan’s work distinguished itself for precisely that reason.

Given the historical complexity of the cyanotype photographic process, the new technology of digital print and her artistic response of the concepts of Irish suffragettes, she showed a clear and evident skill of tools, design, form, and research.

Written by Susan Edwards

Susan Edwards is an art writer based in Co. Wexford. She holds an M.A. In contemporary art theory from the National College of Art and Design, Dublin.

McLachLan has been longlisted for the 2017 RDS Visual Art Award.

* In A Pigment Compendum: A Dictionary of Historical Pigments, Routledge, 2004.