Within Eclectus Australis, 2018, we see the artist taking his audience forward; combining elements of our early enchanting clash of the scientific with our centuries old romantic need to gather and order. Here McGlennon extends these two earlier bodies of work, into the clear light of the Australian landscape. McGlennon captures within each photograph, a brilliant moment wherein lies the strangeness and great beauty of an imaginary ‘Land of contrarieties’.
Both the Indigenous and the invading are seen to populate the images in Eclectus Australis. In Eclectus – Brown Goshawk, 2018, the bird of prey clutches our great ecological disaster, the European rabbit, whilst perched over the colonial inland corridor that was the Hawkesbury River. Like Sir Arthur Streeton in his master oil painting, Purple Noon’s Transparent Night 1896, McGlennon places his viewer high and floating above the magnificence of the Hawkesbury landscape. McGlennon uses this Streeton-esque device to highlight the clean, unbridled Australian landscape. As Streeton did in the late 19th century, juxtaposing a new Australia from the carved out confines of an old and tamed Europe.
This reimagined land is painstakingly created. In Eclectus –Salmon Crested Cockatoos, 2018, again set in the upper reaches of the Hawkesbury River, we see the wild-at-heart cockatoos, three butterflies, a lizard, and sprays of flowers that were all individually photographed with McGlennon’s Hasselblad camera and collaged into a whole. There are over eighty individual photographs used to compile this imaginary ‘land of contrarieties’.
Be it scientifically recorded or creatively composed, McGlennon has drawn from the deep well that is Australia’s early history of settlement and the introduction of species. Here the artist reimagines the wonder, confusion and delight, that was and still is Australia’s flora and fauna.