The piece has a simple, almost monochromatic quality, with the principle colour distinction made between the brown-yellow of the rig itself and the grey-blacks of the surrounding sea and sky. The simple use of colour to characterise the rig helps it to stand out and affirm the significance of the man-made structure against the backdrop of nature. The body of the rig has been painted with rough colours, capturing the harsh industrial quality of its form. Like many of Maclean's artworks, this is a boxed piece constructed from collage. The frame is particularly notable, since it is significantly larger than the painting itself and serves to emphasise the isolation of the rig at sea.
As a former sailor and fisherman, Maclean's artwork has always been intimately connected with life at sea and this small piece depicting a North Sea oil rig reaffirms that connection. His work shows a particular concern with the environment, community and working lives of Highland people. The hard life aboard a rig in the North Sea is consistent with that interest, reflecting the significance of the oil rig to Scotland.
Will Maclean is recognized as one of the leading exponents of box construction art, utilizing found objects to display compelling visual thinking and poetic visual language.
Born in 1941 in Inverness, Will Maclean's family was involved in the traditional industries of fishing, seafaring and crofting, and his work is influenced by his concern with the environment, community and work and the living experiences of Highland communities. After working as a midshipman and ring-net fisherman in the 1960's he attended Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen, now part of Robert Gordon University, and the British School in Rome.
In 1981 he joined the staff of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee. His has been exhibited work exhibited across Britain, Europe and North America. His services to education and art have also been recognized with an MBE and he is a member of the Royal Scottish Academy.
Will's work includes paintings, sculpture and pieces made from objects he has found, particularly influenced by people who have lived and worked by the sea. Now retired from teaching he lives in Tayport in Fife with his artist wife, Marian Leven, who he met when they were both studying at Gray’s School of Art.
With thanks to Art First for information about this artist
Further information on Sorley MacLean