Andrea McLean (b.1968) trained at Falmouth School of Art and the Slade, after which she held a scholarship at the British School at Rome. She works in a variety of media, including oil painting and etching. Andrea has worked in ecclesiastical settings including a year as artist-in-residence at Gloucester Cathedral. Her Mappa Mundi painting is in the British Library Collection and can be seen on the third floor of the library outside the Map Room.
Andrea’s work is featured in Tess Jaray’s book ‘Painting: Mysteries and Confessions’ published by the Royal Academy of Arts, ‘Crossing Borders’ Graffeg Press, ‘Vala’ Journal November 2022 and an upcoming book on the Hereford Mappa Mundi by Oxford University Press. She creates bespoke maps for The Blake Society.
Andrea has won a prize at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and the Jerwood Drawing Prize.
She has had solo exhibitions in London, Bleddfa, Abergavenny and Great Torrington.
Andrea is a Faculty tutor at The Royal Drawing School contributing to courses with mapping and mythological themes. Her studio is in Ledbury, Herefordshire.
Andrea McLean, Mythological and Mapping Fine Artist
By Charlotte Keating
Andrea McLeans extraordinary paintings will have you utterly captivated by their stylised drawings, tiny details and multi layers of translucent muted tones which lend a timeless, dreamlike quality to the work. They feel mystical, mythological and steeped in history and ancient legends. A treat of storytelling through exquisite pictures and intricate mapping which is subtly meditative. Each painting is a journey of discovery translated with colours which feel very relatable to modern life. They have a feeling of both reverence and light heartedness to them which makes you feel as if you’ve come across a truly exceptional artist who will stand the test of time.
Originally brought up living above the family owned Forest Bookshop in Coleford, Forest of Dean, Andrea now lives alone in the charming market town of Ledbury where she quietly spends her days immersed in her art practice and the enchanting stories and realms she paints. Her softly spoken voice and gentle manner mirror her modest attitude towards her accomplishments & successful career as an artist. This local connection led in part to her collaboration with The Sanctuary Gallery where the medieval timber structure complements her work beautifully.
Andrea (b.1968) is a traditionally trained fine artist having studied at Falmouth School of Art and the Slade, after which she held a scholarship at the British School at Rome. She works in a variety of media, including oil painting and etching and shares these skills as with students at The Royal Drawing School as a faculty tutor contributing to courses with mapping and mythological themes.
Andrea has worked as an artist-in-residence at both Gloucester and Hereford Cathedrals whose ecclesiastical settings complement and inspire her work. Notably, her Mappa Mundi painting is in the British Library Collection and can be seen on the third floor of the library outside the Map Room. She’s been featured in a variety of prestigious publications and art journals and won prizes at Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and the Jerwood Drawing Prize.
Stemming from her childhood spent exploring the family bookshop after hours, she has a more scholarly approach to her art practice, spending a lot of time in libraries first researching her theme or topic and exploring manuscripts, legends and maps in order to develop a sense of connection to the past which she will translate through her paintings. Her sketchbooks – or atlases as she describes them - add to the process and are filled with colour, layers, imagery and writing which serve as a record, journal and visual experimentation to inspire her final pieces. With such an in depth background to her chosen subject, it’s no wonder her paintings are filled with such intricate, meandering detail.
She begins each painting with translucent abstract layers with colours relating to her upbringing amongst nature in the Forest of Dean or places she’s travelled to like Italy, India and Mexico before adding figurative elements as the painted story develops, overlaps and journeys across the page. Across her paintings you will discover similar shapes or figures moving in a certain way and become aware of a sense of light through the imagery which really embodies her style of painting, creating quiet conversations within each piece.
Often referred to as a mapping artist or cosmographer, she happily explained what mapping in art means:
“ Mapping, as a way of drawing and painting, means working on a canvas or sheet of paper to create brush-marks or pencil-marks where intuition, thought and reflection make scenes or stopping points (nodes). The connecting lines, often meandering, become journeys of their own. Imaginary landscapes form, with cities, towns and pathways which may have the presence of a dream place, an experience of heightened visual awareness or visualised ideas about the future.”
Andrea’s house is configured & centred around supporting the needs and space of her art practice. One particular area of her old cottage hospital has an old ward room with high ceilings which she uses for working on large canvases but otherwise her living and workspace are so connected that she can just dip in and out as she wishes, allowing her to indulge in living the life of a full time artist – not as a job, but as an innate sense of being.
She adores the therapeutic benefit of painting, getting lost in the magical feeling and illustrative detail of her work, often working very close up to large canvases, following her intuition, being inspired by the art materials as much as the subject matter itself. Andrea feels extremely privileged to be able to paint every day, emphasizing the importance it plays in finding her place in the world by feeling spiritually connected to past and present culture, artists and poets through her exploration of a variety of art, maps, myths, prehistoric cave drawings and poetry which influence her work.
I can’t encourage you enough to come out and see this exhibition as it’s truly fascinating and a rare treat of wonder. If you’d like to meet her and hear for yourself what inspires her practice and her momentum for creating, please book your place on the Artist Talk.