Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
John Keats, Ode to a Nightingale
McGlennon’s parrots stand in opposition to the cultural roles that have been mapped out for these birds. They are not subject to human whims, nor obliged to play the comedian to an audience. In these impossibly sharp-focused vignettes they appear as indigenous warriors standing guard over their ancestral lands, their plumage exhibited with pride and defiance. They are lords and guardians of the bush overseeing the grand, Romantic spectacle of life returning from the ashes.
John McDonald, 2020 full essay on page 13 of the exhibition catalogue.
Awakening was Jospeh McGlennon’s 9th solo exhibition with Michael Reid in the Ballroom of The Bond Building, Woollahra. In Awakening McGlennon presents the native Australian birds as heroic survivors of the bushfires displaying themselves triumphantly against bare landscapes and brooding, cloudy skies. They are romantic figures: as indomitable as the earth itself, as proud as soldiers who have won a victory over a deadly enemy.