A Dream and an Argument

Dougal McKenzie (Producer)

Research output: Non-textual formExhibition

5 Citations (Scopus)


This research explores the possibilities of ‘memory’ in painting. The connection between literary narratives and painting were important drivers in the making of the work, prompted informed by Massie’s (1994) biography of the Romantic Scottish novelist Walter Scott. Drawn to the partly biographical, partly fictional account of the writer’s life, and the exhibition’s title ‘A Dream and an Argument’ not only refers to the name of a chapter in the book, but also intends to describe a personal understanding of the practice of painting and the way in which memory acts as we reflect on the past (sometimes with contradictory effects, pitting ‘imagined’ events against ‘realities’). My previous work explored connections between painting and history, and for this research I wanted to challenge and question the possibility of painted forms ever being able to truly represent past events. This led to my reading of ‘The Heart of Mid-Lothian’ (Scott, 1818), which in its account of Edinburgh’s Porteous Riots of 1736, similarly blends fact and fiction. My technical and material techniques in the making of the paintings make direct reference to the hanging of Captain Porteous from a dyer’s pole. Accounts of this drew my attention not just to the dyer’s trade of colour, but also the method of staining cloth. Through the use of unprimed linen as a painting surface, and the dilution of oil paint with turpentine visual analogies were formed. This resulted in a technique more akin to the washes commonly achieved through watercolour painting, but instead deployed in my handling of oil mediums. The technique created a further visual analogy to memory, whereby the images in my paintings might be said to become less distinct with the passing of time. Extending beyond literature, cinematic contexts and references are made adapting cinematic production methods within painting practice.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationThe MAC, Belfast
Media of outputOnline
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 30 Jun 2017
EventDougal McKenzie: A Dream and an Argument - The Mac, Belfast, United Kingdom
Duration: 30 Jun 20178 Sept 2017


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