There were relatively few women Pop artists in the 1960s and 70s and most have disappeared from the history of the period. Worldwide, women artists are currently being retrieved and restored to Pop's history with major exhibitions in recent years in the United States and Europe focussing on their significant contribution.
Bridgid McLean's paintings are as accomplished as any of her international peers and fascinatingly her subject from c1968 to c1974 was the testosterone fuelled world of racing cars and their (male) drivers. Conflating man and vehicle, her paintings were often generically titled 'Machines'. These were critically acclaimed when exhibited in her first solo exhibition, in 1973 at Watters Gallery in Sydney.
In the mid 1970s McLean's practice changed. While still Pop inflected, her works from this period recall American west coast funk and the distinctive work of the Chicago imagists. Smaller in scale and highly detailed, McLean subjects people and body parts to pressure and in some works they literally pop open as plungers are pushed and weight exerted, while in others figures sprout multiple eyes and kidneys. They are meticulously made, reflected in the specific materials listed by the artist which also suggest the detailed and considered process involved in making them.
synthetic polymer paint on canvas on hardboard, plywood, wood, aluminium and nails
49.0 x 43.5 cm stretcher
Signature & date
Signed and dated c.r. verso on stretcher, black synthetic polymer paint "BRIDGID McLEAN 1976/ ...".
Patrick White Bequest Fund 2013
Not on display
© Bridgid McLean
Shown in 4 exhibitions
Bridgid McLean (1976), Watters Gallery, East Sydney, 27 Oct 1976–13 Dec 1976
Watters at Pinacotheca, Pinacotheca Gallery, Australia, 04 May 1977–28 May 1977
Group show Tramshed Art Centre (1989), Tramshed Arts and Community Centre, Narrabeen, Jul 1989–Unknown
Bridgid McLean: works from 1976-1990, Watters Gallery, East Sydney, 21 Nov 2012–15 Dec 2012
Referenced in 3 publications
W.E. Pidgeon, The Sunday Telgraph, 'Zany, but such fun', pg. 104, Sydney, 31 Oct 1976, 104. general reference
Pinacotheca Gallery (Compilator), Watters at Pinacotheca, Melbourne, 1977, 15. cat.no. 48; priced $300
Watters Gallery (Compilator), Bridgid McLean, 'Paintings', Sydney, 1976, n.pag.. cat.no. 26; priced $300