Sophie Gannon Gallery
10 Aug 2021 – 28 Aug 2021
Of Scottish birth with an international career in advertising media, Joseph McGlennon’s art practice began with his 2010 series of taxidermy kangaroos, a series tonally as nostalgic as Landseer’s Monarch of the Glen with a contemporary edge more nuanced in design and content.
McGlennon’s Strange Voyage, 2010, built digital tapestries of photographic and graphic files, setting up his modus operandi. By referencing the era of the first presentation of antipodean flora, fauna and landscape in the Euramerica, McGlennon also tapped the Romantic naturalism movement of 19th century art. For me as an Australian, the Strange Voyage images were poignant in addressing a key question. How had we as a nation, as well as the environment, evolved since the colonial era? What I pondered also, was their discussion on contemporary Australia, a viewing space shared by First Nations people and non-European migrants.
Since that first body of work, McGlennon’s execution, with the support of custom printers, has become ever
more detailed, tonally diverse and spatially complex. The composition of his photographs illustrate curious
foregrounds closeup, far distant landscape perspectives of traditional natural history drawings, and the wild
collage of elements found in Victorian fantasy art.
McGlennon’s worlds are so lush they are almost a new Eden, seemingly effortless blends of traditional wildlife photography with naturalist documentary flavours. His images orchestrate simulacra in such a manner that they bring the natural world to the viewer as if just on the other side of glass a menagerie.
It is extraordinary how McGlennon’s combination of museum dioramas, stereographs of taxidermy specimens
and floral still life imagery are orchestrated into parrallel worlds. His photographs draw you to a place beyond
the surface of reality, leaving one to encounter and interpret complex and intriguing social, political and
By combining the traditional authenticity of actual wildlife photography with baroque tableaux, Joseph
McGlennon brings ghosts to life from the past. Through taxidermy and a skilled digital wand, for example, the
now extinct Thylacine prowls the Tasmanian peaks in the 2013 series of the same name. Through the works of
Thylacines, we are reminded that there are no innocent viewers here. We know the story and twitch.
Joseph McGlennon’s photographs prompt us to reflect, consider and question how and why we have ended up
at this destination. Through their beauty they tell us something from the long-established European art tradition
of the ‘nature morte’ and ‘speaking picture’. Are we the viewers looking back to a lost pre-colonial real or an
imagined Eden, or are we being reminded that we may be on the edge of extinction ourselves?
– extract of essay by Gael Newton, 2020