Stuart Mackenzie RSA comes from a family of land workers and gamekeepers originating from the Scottish Highlands and Ireland. From an early age he engaged with landscape and the flora and fauna that inhabit it, making drawings from nature. This fascination with the natural world has informed his work throughout his career. Whilst his early works were monumental in scale and considered the people who lived and worked on the land, he gradually became more focused on landscape, making large-scale abstract paintings from site-specific sources. Over the past ten years his work has become increasingly involved with the flora and fauna of Scotland and further afield.
Mackenzie has been an angler since his childhood and this gives him a direct connection to the natural world and what lives, exists and grows there. D’Arcy Thompson’s study of how things grow and take shape in On Growth and Form has been a major influence on his work. Thompson’s analysis of biological processes and their mathematical and physical aspects have helped to inform Mackenzie’s contextual position. In recent years he has been working on an ongoing project, entitled Species Morphology, which investigates the phenomena that exist in nature and how its morphological and transformative characteristics relate closely to the mercurial and alchemical properties that are embedded in the process of painting, drawing, and printmaking. Mackenzie explores the morphology of these phenomena through an investigative and exploratory engagement with process and with his chosen materials. The resulting autographic works embrace improvisation and interrogate the dialogue that exists between representation and abstraction. The concept of species and how each individual fish, bird, plant or animal conforms to the complexity of type is at the centre of his work.