Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Helen McLean’s novel Significant Things (Dundurn Press) was shortlisted for the 2004 Commonwealth Writer’s Prize in the Canada and Caribbean division. Her articles, essays and reviews have appeared in The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Quill & Quire, and many other periodicals. Her paintings have been exhibited across Canada and are part of several important collections including that of the Bank of Canada. Her portrait of Margaret Laurence hangs in the Margaret Laurence Home in Neepawa, Manitoba.
In Just Looking and other Essays McLean meditates on the world with a painter's eye. She examines the puzzle of why an artist feels compelled to paint. What is it that captures the attention, and how does the artist reproduce that first perception in the studio, days or weeks later? Does an artist record what is seen or what experience teaches? She inveighs against phoniness in art and the contemporary lack of rigour that Umberto Eco has called an “orgy of tolerance.”