IAIN MACLEAN

 

The War and Slavery Series

IAIN MACLEAN'S WORK

 

The Last Train To Hell

 

OLFACTORY: An adj (Latin) relating to the sense of smell.

 

Humans have 347 functional odour receptor genes for smell.  We can recognise up to 10,000 different odours, but only seven to eight tastes. So most of what we think is taste, is actually smell. That's why, when we have flu or a cold, we can taste very little.

 

Physiologically, smell sense-receptors, which cover an area about the size of a postage stamp, are located at the top of the palate next to the Hippocampus, an area of the brain responsible for memory and the Amygdala – which plays a key role in the processing of emotions and is part of the limbic system (the so-called lizard-brain).

 

Unlike the other senses, SMELL is directly linked to emotion and memory. That’s why smells evoke memories and emotions so powerfully.  A particular odour can recall first love, a particular summer, schooldays, Christmas, a place, a time - instantly.

 

New research indicates that early childhood smells can never be erased and leave an indelible mark on the brain.

 

John Steinbeck expressed the power of smell in East of Eden, " I remember my childhood names for grasses and secret flowers. I remember where a toad may live and what time the birds awaken in the summer and what the seasons and trees smelled like - how people looked and walked and smelled even. The memory of odours is very rich."

 

Marcel Proust also expressed it in Remembrance of Things Past as follows: "After people are dead, after things are broken and scattered.. the smell and taste remain poised a long time, like souls... bearing resiliently on the tiny and almost impalpable drops of their essence; the immense edifice of memory."

 

In spite of all this there has never been an art form based on smell.

 

Perfumiers practice an applied art and their raison d'etre is produce pleasant odours/scents/smells to enhance people's physical attractiveness.  They don't produce ordinary, or even unpleasant smells that evoke memories.

 

I first started experimanting woth smells as an art form in the early 70s, but the problems of capturing and maintaining smells were insurmountable, so reluctanly, I was forced to give it up.

 

However, over the years, new advances in gas chromatography and mass spectrometry technology have enabled chemists to capture, analyse and reconstitute odour molecules in what is called Headspace  Capture Process. In other words, odours can now be replicated chemically.

 

So, science and art can meet to explore our most mysterious and neglected sense and thereby open up new worlds to everyone and, in particular, the blind, who have been excluded from apprciating our all too  visually-biased forms of art.      

 

With thanks and gratitude for the advice, of William Andrews of P&G and the generosity and help of the amazing perfumer, Angela Stavrevska who created the Jubilee scent Adamas, exclusively for HM the Queen on behalf of the industry.

 

This is an exciting and evocative new artform, that has never really been explored.  For want of a better expression, I’ve called it Olfactorism, after the Latin for sense of smell.  Why not?  Impressionism was  based on exploring light and Olfactorism is based on exploring smell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like many post-war children, I was fascinated by WW2.  As my father was keen bibliophile, I had access to dozens of books on the subject.

 

Unlike my father, my mother’s experiences were a mystery because she was reluctant to speak about them, beyond saying that she and her family were forcibly removed from their farm in Poland by the Russians and taken to Siberia. Their lands were confiscated and turned into a collective farm.

 

Over time, more information on her life slowly emerged. In the meantime, I read books about the holocaust, including The Diary of Anne Frank and was deeply moved by their plight.

 

Leokadia, my mother, a slave of the USSR.

 

Later in my life I was shocked to discover the details of her early life. This is her story.

 

In September 1939, Germany and Russia invaded Poland and divided it between them. Stalin took Eastern Poland and absorbed it into the Soviet Union.

 

Over 1.5 million Poles had their homes and land confiscated and were sent to slave labour camps in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Siberia.

 

My mother remembers waking up one morning in the Winter of 1939, to the sound and sight of Russian troops outside their farmhouse.  The soldiers arrested my grandfather Andrew Osko at bayonet point and told him, his wife, Gugalo, and their four children, all in their teens: Leokadia, my mother, her brothers Edward, and t.eszek, and her younger sister, Regina, to pack up their belongings.

 

They were then taken to the local train station and herded into a cattle truck along with 50 or so other people. Many of the local villagers looked on with surprise and fear.

 

Why had my mother’s family been selected? My grandfather had been an army officer and was at that time a senior civil servant in the army ministrywho divided his time between Warsaw and the farm, which straddled Poland and Ukraine.

 

It was probably because the Russians had him marked down as a dangerous civil servant and “Osadniki”. Osadniki was the name given to Polish soldiers who had fought and defeated a vastly superior Russian army on the banks of river Vistula, just outside Warsaw, in August 1920.

 

In recognition of their bravery, many were given land, or farms by the then new Government of Poland.

 

Like many of her strong and damaged generation, my mother never spoke  much about the privations she and her family suffered in the slave labour camp (gulag).

 

Forced labour in Siberia in temperatures below minus 40.

 

The gulag was run by the NKVD (Russian secret police) and families were crowded together in unhealthy, lice-infested communal barracks - in temperatures that often fell below minus 40.

 

In spite of the fact that they worked all day logging, they lived on potato peeling soup, when available and 100 grams of black bread a day. Not surprisingly, many thousands died.

 

Those on the brink of death were called “Dokhodiagas”, or goners. In 1938 USSR procurator Andrei Vyshinsky wrote to NKVD chief Nikolai Yezhov, “Among the prisoners there are some so ragged and lice-ridden that they pose a sanitary danger to the rest. These prisoners have deteriorated to the point of losing any resemblance to human beings. Lacking food they collect garbage and, according to some prisoners, eat rats and dogs.”

 

According to declassified Soviet information 1,053,829 people died in the gulags between 1934 and 1953. However this is probably grossly understated, as gulags often released prisoners on the edge of death rather than bothering to dispose of their corpses.

 

In June 1941, after the collapse of the Nazi-Soviet Pact, Germany invaded Russia. The USSR needed help to fight their former ally. So, a Polish-Soviet treaty was agreed which allowed the release of all Poles held in labour camps and the formation of a new Polish army under Polish General Anders, based in Southern Russia.

 

But, unbeknown to Anders, the Russians were reluctant to lose all their slaves, and out of the million deported Poles who had survived the two-years of forced labour, only 160,500 managed to get away from the camps before Stalin called a halt to the exodus.

 

Out of 1.5 million, only 160,500 got away.

 

My Mother’s family were part of that 160,500. By various means, the women of her gulag managed to persuade the Russians that they and their menfolk wanted to go South to help General Anders in the fight against the Nazis.

 

Somehow they laid their hands on a train, which, after many close calls, took them down South. On the way down, on a particularly cold day, my Grandfather died and my mother and her brothers were forced to throw his body off the moving train.

 

The Poles struggled to reach southern Russia where the Polish army was reassembling under General Anders at Buzuluk. The Russians had promised to supply food, clothing and equipment. However, this didn‘t arrive, and yet again, thousands more died of starvation and disease.

 

Eventually, in 1942 Anders’ army and surviving the Polish civilians were evacuated from Russia through Constantinople (now Istanbul) to British-controlled Pahlavi in Persia (now Iran). Anders’ army joined the Allied forces in Europe.

 

The British offered Polish children and families the choice of going to refugee camps in: India, Africa, Mexico and New Zealand.

 

My Mother, her mother and sister Regina, chose Africa.  Meanwhile her brother Edward joined the RAF, so he went to England. Her other brother Leszek, joined Anders’ army and he remained in Europe where he became involved in Solidarity.

 

In October 1942, according to the eccentric the Director of War Evacuees and Camps of Northern Rhodesia, Gore Browne, there were 1,227 Polish refugees in the Northern Rhodesian refugee camp in Lusaka.

 

My mother was one of them. And that’s where she met my father, a dashing young British army officer…

 

The slavery series surfaced when I returned to art school in 2006 and it’s something I return to frequently.

..

7 Russians burying the dead in water

Many gulags didn't have barbed wire because they were so remote that escapees didn't last long in temperatures of minus 40.

The ground was so hard, that the Russians preferred to "bury" the dead in lakes and rivers. And, fish disposed of any evidence.

Thousands of miles away from Europe, my beautiful Mother Laokadia was free and safe in Lusaka.

Brookes leaflet 328 kb

The small poster shown left, saved millions of lives and helped pave the way for the eventual abolition of slavery around the word

 

The diagram showed how men, women, and children were packed into the hold for the six-to-eight week journey on a ship called The Brookes. The ship was built in Liverpool in the 1780s and carried over 600 enslaved Africans on two Atlantic crossings in 1783.  

 

The Brookes was allowed to stow 454 African slaves, by allowing a space of 6 feet (1.8 m) by 1 foot 4 inches (0.41 m) to each man; 5 feet 10 inches (1.78 m) by 1 foot 4 inches (0.41 m) to each women, and 5 feet (1.5 m) by 1 foot 2 inches (0.36 m) to each child. Each person could neither sit up fully nor stand.

 

It’s estimated that 15 million Africans were transported to the Americas between 1540 and 1850. To maximize their profits slave merchants crammed as many slaves as they could on their ships.

 

In 1787 a number of prominent Christian leaders led by Thomas Clarkson and Granville Sharp formed the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. Influential figures such as John Wesley, Josiah Wedgwood and William Wilberforce, the MP for Hull, gave their support to the campaign.

 

In 1788 they printed 7000 posters of the plan and posted them on churches and prominent building around Britain.

 

It worked. Victorian churchgoers were shocked and outraged and pressurized the government to put a stop to the vile trade.

 

The proposed sculpture was based on the main diagram The outlines of all the figures were to be made life-size in brass strip which would be laid into the floor like a giant brass rubbing.

 

The public could then lie in the spaces and imagine what it would be like for the slaves who spent up to three months across the Atlantic.

 

 

 

 

Human Cargo II

IMG_7277

This is the latest in the series and depicts 45 slaves. Forty are bound together by one hand and one foot in 20 pairs and five are on their own with hands and feet bound. The slaves are wooden art mannequins to reflect the fact that they were treated like timber, like cargo, not human beings. Each slave figure measures 30cm x 8cm x 3cm.

 

Materials: wood, acrylic, plastic and PVA.

 

Size: 173cm x 135cm x 7.5cm

 

Created: 2016

 

Acrylic on canvas.

 

4’ x 2’ 6” x 1” (122cm x 76cm x 2.5cm).

 

2009

 

Private collection

Slaves I

 

This depicts slaves as dehumanized forms that appear to be made of wood; to reflect the fact that they were treated like cargo, not human beings.

 

Card, paper, linen, wood, pencil, acrylic, PVA.

 

65cm x 47cm x 0.5cm

 

2014

 

 

 

 

This painting depicts a slave, a child labourer, staring at our world through a shop window. Is he for sale?  Are you for sale? The integral frame is made of over 200 actual Coke and beer tin cans stapled and glued to a wood frame. The cans represent items of our throw-away society, which the poor use for basic survival.

 

Acrylic, oils, canvas, PVA and printing plates. The integral frame is made of over 200 actual Coke and beer tin cans on a wood frame.  

3’ 9” x 6’ 7” x 3” (117cm x 200cm x 7.5cm)

 

2016

Slaves VI. Iain Maclean

Slaves VI

The Chattel

 

This painting, featuring an injured woman with a bandage over one eye and wearing a burka was originally painted a month before Malala was shot by the Taliban. Life imitating art?

 

Acrylic, PVA and glass on canvas

 

3’ 3” x 3’ 3” x 1.5” (99cm x 99cm x 4cm)

 

 

The Lost Childhood

Human Cargo I - A work in progress...

Unlike my Mother, milions went on a one-way train journey to enslavement and death. The face on the right could be Anne Frank on her way to Belsen, or my Mother on her way to Siberia. Conditions on the cattle trucks were appalling with between 30 and 50 people crammed together. It's hard to believe that this happened in the middle of the 20th Cemtury, in so-called "civilised" Europe.

 

Materials: Canvas, acrylic, charcoal, blood, tea, coffee and PVA.

 

Size: 90cm x 90cm x 2cm

 

Created: 2016

 

Lust to Dust the maclean 586k

From Lust To Dust

The painting depicts the crushed bodies of a mother and baby in Syria, in Iraq, in Darfur, in countless wars... with soldiers' boot prints across their bodies. The baby is wrapped in an old United Nations hessian food sack.

 

The same boot prints depicted on the painting are sunk into the frame, which is made of sand.

 

Oils, acrylic, blood and hessian on canvas, with sand and PVA on wood.

 

7’ 10 ½” x 4’ (200cm x 122cm x 10cm)

Heart of My Darkness

This painting/collage depicts my darkest fears through the mayhem of the Congo. I lived on the border with Zambia.That’s a photo of me as a schoolboy, a Rhodesian Provisional Restriction Notice and Student’s Union card when at Goldsmiths.

 

Acrylic, oils, blood, photoprints and PVA on canvas.

 

2’ 4” x 3” x 1” (71cm x 91cm x 2.5cm)

Barcode Bathsheba

It is estimated that there are between 21 and 49 millions slaves in the world today. There are more slaves now than ever before in history.

 

According to the U.S. Department of State, 800,000 people trafficked across international borders every year; 80% are female.

 

Acrylic and oils on canvas.

 

3’11 ½ ” x 2’ 6” x 1”(90cm x 60cm 2.5cm).

 

Brookes screens
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The Passion! Series

I wrote screeds on the subject, but lost the lot. Bugger. I can't be bothered to write any more on the subject. I'm just going to bung a whole lot of my stuff in here.  

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 10.38.22 IM_016_print IMG_6895

The Olfactory Series

Love Lies Bleeding IM_012_print

“Dramatic, to a certain extent disturbing. You certainly have an imagination to enable one to see deep inside and understand it.”

Zarco Ivanov, Russia

 

“Inspired and cathartic. Slightly disturbing.”

Mark Watkins, Switzerland

 

“Very inspirational and real.”

karen uppal. London

 

“Thought provoking, emotional and brilliant!”

Haley Constable, London

 

“Dark and emotionally affecting. Good luck with the slave sculpture project.”

Tom Hopkins, London

 

“A fantastic exploration of emotion.”

Adam Saltid, London

 

“Deep passion for people, the Human Race comes through. Really like your use of texture in paintings. And look forward to seeing your Slave sculpture one day.”

Romany Cottam, London

 

“Powerful work!”

Adam Hewitt, London

 

“I really like your interest in smell as a way of reliving past narratives. I’m looking forward to seeing the slave ship take off.”

Natasha Tonkin

 

“I like your work and the feeling it gives the viewer – specially the use of colour, which is really great. Overall, I think that anybody that does art, fashion or architecture could find it inspiring. It’s great.”

Dorian Yima

 

 

“Inspired and cathartic. Slightly disturbing.”

Mark Watkins, Switzerland

 

“Very inspirational and real.”

karen uppal

 

“Thought provoking, emotional and brilliant!”

Haley Constable, London

 

“Dark and emotionally affecting. Good luck with the slave sculpture project.”

Tom Hopkins

 

“A fantastic exploration of emotion.”

Adam Saltid, London

 

“Deep passion for people, the Human Race comes through. Really like your use of texture in paintings. And look forward to seeing your Slave sculpture one day.”

Romany Cottam, London

 

“Powerful work!”

Adam Hewitt, London

 

“I really like your interest in smell as a way of reliving past narratives. I’m looking forward to seeing the slave ship take off.”

Natasha Tonkin

 

“I like your work and the feeling it gives the viewer – specially the use of colour, which is really great. Overall, I think that anybody that does art, fashion or architecture could find it inspiring. It’s great.”

Dorian Yima

“Very moving work. I wish you every success with the slave ship.”

Ann Brown

 

“Very much enjoyed the exhibition. Very challenging and thought provoking.”

Annie Fernando

 

“Frightening and wonderful work.”

America Lopez, London

 

“It inspired. It stoked the feelings we keep deep within.”

Kayla Shaefer

 

“Very thought-provoking + I love the reds!”

Hen Rajasalo

 

“Like the use of red.”

Tabitha Beckman

 

“I met the artist. That was GREAT. Love the work.”

Leisa Rea, London

 

“What ideas - wishing. I wish you good luck with the slavery project.”

Irene Adams, London

 

“Clever, witty and horrific all at the same time.”

Alexis Smith, London

 

“TORN CURTAIN – BRILLIANT.”

Laura Kingdon, London

 

“Blessed with a rare talent.”

Yea Yeas

The Smell Series

What the people, not the critics, said.

Studio crowded IMG_0274.1296591266356

Exhibitions in London and New York

 

Leokadia, my Mother, a Slave of the USSR

 

Copyright iain Maclean 2017. All rights reserved...

Iain Maclean's paintings - National Gallery MACLEAN Artist

Iain Maclean's work in a non-white cube setting.

Sorry, most of the Work on this site has been removed. This section is being reworked. 

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