· artist’s name: Michael McGraw
· materials: 2 Offset Lithographs printed on Somerset Satin paper
· size: 950mm x 735mm
· titles: The Accelerating Exodus
· The Extension
· Time: both 2018
Using printmaking, photography, sculpture and artist bookworks, my practice investigates issues related to land use, focussing on our industrial/social integration with land/space. This investigation is linked to an extensive analysis of social, political and historical findings allied, and at times, in opposition to, technological acceleration and advancement.
My work is frequently related to my own involvement with the natural landscape, often as result of my interaction with a particular place, space or site. My most recent works have taken on an edge of true simplicity, almost cathartic in their conception whereby we are encouraged to explore and reflect upon some very elementary acts of involvement, such as the series of “proposed” works and “viewing platforms”. These works include very simply designed structures and enclosures which are intended to take the “viewer” on an experiential journey designated to heighten their perception of place/space, irrespective of their familiarity with it.
Some recent projects have examined the way land has been used historically, looking at ancient agricultural field systems, the structures and roads used to apportion and traverse our landscapes (Roman interventions, military routes, drove roads, coffin routes) through to our current methods of land management, industrial utilisation and social use.
Recent works include the artist book “Lilia” which investigates the history of Roman warfare (linked to Paul Virilio’s “dromology” writings) which documents the only known site of a Roman lilia in Scotland, a series of defensive pits which contained sharpened stakes, designed to impale intruders attacking the Antonine Wall. Another new work entitled “Abyssinia” draws upon the use of remote solitary stone buildings (bothies) offering refuge in isolated locations. This series of embossed textural works on paper investigates notions of duration through history linked to the fragility of the materials in the making. The works examine our relationship and interaction with landscape and infrastructure put in place by our ancestors, with the intention to re-appraise or re-visit the factors surrounding their use or demise.
My main areas of research have been developed through an investigation of land use, predominantly but not limited to, the United Kingdom. I am interested in the relationship we have with land and how our natural environments have evolved over time, through agriculture, ritual, warfare, infrastructure, industry and technology. Particular interests encompass elements of geography, mapping and surveillance and their relation to artists working with the land.
ancestors, with the intention to re-appraise or re-visit the factors surrounding their use or demise.
the description of each work:
These two prints are based on the ‘architecture’ of the refugee camp. The origins are rooted in reading Native Land, Stop Eject, a catalogue to accompany the exhibition of the same name at Fondation Cartier in Paris in 2008. This exhibition was conceived by filmmaker Raymond Depardon and urbanist and philosopher Paul Virilio and explores notions of identity and sedentariness. It comments-
While the world has reached a critical moment in its history, where the environment conditions what humans do and what they will become, the exhibition Native Land, Stop Eject proposes a reflection on the notions of being rooted and uprooted, as well as related questions of identity.
I was reading this book whilst on holiday in the Greek islands in the summer of 2015 and witnessed the early stages of migration and refugees making their way from Syria and other conflict zones via Turkey and North Africa, across the Mediterranean Sea to any beach they could make it to. This was a truly poignant moment where a grim realisation of the texts from Native Land was unfolding before me, seven years after the publication of this book.
This spawned a large wealth of research which resulted in new work related to the notion of land use and the formation of ’super’ refugee camps, Za’atari and Azraq in Jordan and more recently Kutupalong in Bangladesh. Conceived as temporary places, these camps are fast becoming permanent due to the ongoing conflicts in the respective countries. I am interested in the architecture of the buildings, the attempts by UNHCR to provide some form of shelter and the financial, political and human rights issues associated with housing and the relocation of these displaced people back to their own lands.
These prints attempt to address the temporary nature of these camps with the cut-out shape of different emergency shelters super-imposed, cut out and mounted on top of the original print to make a low-relief work which can only really be experienced close up.