Works and Projects

Leaf Tracing by Peter McLean

Leaf Tracing  2010

medium: chalk on pavement

surface: slate pavement

location: Outside the offices of the Australian Tax Office, Bunda St, Canberra.


I make what I call leaf tracings from time to time.  They are part ephemeral street art, part performance, since they are often done in areas with people about.  They are kind of random, but then again, not.


I never just draw leaves.  I only ever trace leaves that are there.  I don't want to make drawings of an imagined leaf shape.  By using tracings I get something closer to the real shape of those particular leaves, the particular sizes and distribution on the pavement. It's about responding to the the environment, about noticing nature, even in the city. It's about the particular, not the generic.  As a performative thing, I like the sheer absurdity of this ongoing project.  The project isn't announced, or pre planned, it just suddenly starts to happen if I happen to be walking the city with some chalk in my pocket and I see a nice scatter of leaves in a suitable spot.  People certainly notice, but rarely seek answers to the obvious 'what is he doing?'. 


I mostly favour breezy conditions for these works - as the leaves move it leaves the tracing behind, and I frequently follow the shifting leaves until they momentarily settle again, make another tracing.  Then the drawing captures information about air and movement as well as leaves!



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