ID Maclean

ID Maclean

I’m a Scottish, Polish/Swedish mongrel, born in Zambia (on the Congo border) and Zimbabwe. The names of both the town and country of my birth no longer exist.

In terms of art, my earliest direct influences were African in the form of wood and soapstone carvings and stick-figure paintings for the tourist trade.

When I was about eight, one of my teachers gave me an illustrated book on European art. It became a cherished possession – my escape into other worlds. I didn’t visit a gallery until I was in my late teens.

I was particularly attracted to the work of Picasso and Francis Bacon. I didn’t know why at the time, but perhaps it was because they both distorted the human form, a little like African art.

In '69 I came to London and got a place at Goldsmiths. As a colonial, I didn't get a grant, so paid my way through by working as a showman (backstage) at the London Palladium.

Like many students in the early 70s at Goldsmiths, I moved away from figurative, to more conceptual work. I started designing a series of “rooms” exploring the senses: smell, touch, sight and audio.

I eventually grew disenchanted with working nights, including weekends and studying in the day, so gave it all up and went into advertising. I'm not sure I believed Marshal Mcluhan when he said that, “Advertising is the art of the 20th Century”, but I gave it a go. I had one exhibition at JWT in Berkeley Square and sold a few pieces. However, I threw the rest off New Cross Bridge on my last visit to Goldsmiths.

I became a copywriter and after a while creative director at a number of advertising agencies in London, including Ogilvy; Dewar, Coyle Maclean; Leybourne Brown Maclean and Enfatico Y&R. I won a few gongs and, in 2006, went back to art school, this time, Byam Shaw, Central St Martins.

In 2010, I gave up advertising and took up art more or less full-time.

That's the past, what about now? Who knows? It keeps evolving, changing. It's taken me a long, long time and much painful self-interrogation. I've been forced to be brutally honest with myself. Am I any good? Who knows? Do I have anything unique and interesting to say? Yes, I think so.