Chad McCail has this to say about his work, "I make drawings, paintings and prints working in a figurative, illustrative manner. It is my intention that there should be no question as to what is represented but that the viewer’s attention should be focused on why it is and what is happening and that if this is successful, important questions should be raised. The pictures usually carry a short text that provides a lens through which the image can be seen. My interest is in examining those forces that enable us to take pleasure in one another, to empathise and co-exist peacefully and those which alienate and cultivate antagonism and mistrust.
Recently I have been looking at the history of compulsory education and this had led to an interest in how we treat children at puberty. In other cultures it is an event often contained by a public ritual which binds the adolescent to the community. That no such thing exists for most of us testifies to our emotional incompetence. Our general denial and failure to acknowledge or preserve the significance of this event, has particular consequences".
From the Edinburgh printmakers website
Chad McCail's paintings and prints adapt the type of visual language you might find located on the back of your seat in a plane as you are waiting to take off. He wants to make a point and to make it as simply and clearly as possible, therefore he uses graphic languages designed to do just that, when you have to think about your safety on a plane the language used must be both clear and universally applicable.
The language of air safety
His recent work 'Compulsory Education' looks at the three-tier education system that has resulted in comprehensive, grammar and public schools. He puts forward speculative arguments about the origins of 'compulsory education' in the conflicts between the European 'great powers' in the nineteenth century and is fascinated by the fact that..."pupils whose parents have paid for their schooling are four times as likely as state school peers to get a place at one of the top ten universities."
Chad McCail: images from various projects
McCail's work is about highlighting the mechanisms that are used for social control 'Most children learn enough to obey orders, some learn more so they can transmit commands' one of his images reads. 'A few learn to dictate'.
As you can see from the range of images above, McCail varies his style to fit the idea. Sometimes he is dealing with issues that need a more open ambiguous response and at others he uses text to solidly ground or anchor his images to a particular issue. 'Wealth is shared', is for instance a title many would aspire to, but the reality is that Capitalism as a system is not about sharing. The images therefore can seen naive but on second reading you realise that their simplicity is intentional. If it seems very appropriate to talk to children about sharing, why is it so hard to broach the same subject with adults? In our heart of hearts we are socialists but in our minds we are often capitalists. McCail asks us to rethink and go back to the essential truths that we thought were right when we were young. Often drawn on a computer, McCail's work is digitally printed or made into silkscreens. He also works as a mural artist, his accessible style being very useful if there is a need for an idea to be communicated to a wide variety of people.
Chad McCail: The Becontree Mural