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image for Film item typeFilm Screening: Which Way Up at Gibberd Gallery

  • Self-assessed Accessibility Information

Film, Tue 29 May 2018, free entry

John McLean

John McLean

John McLean in his studio.


Civic Centre,
The Water Gardens,
CM20 1WG


A special screening of 'Which Way Up' directed by Michael Proudfoot about the artist John McLean, whose artwork features in Proof Positive, the current special exhibition at the Gibberd Gallery.

“John is a gem: bright as a jewel. Enviably blessed with a Matisse-like ability to dispose colour to dramatic and meaningful effect in the visual music of his paintings…he has created some of the most important abstract paintings of our period”
Albert Irvin RA, Painter

“John McLean has produced some of the most lyrical, beautiful and intensely pleasurable paintings to appear in Britain since 1960…British art’s secret weapon”
Ian Collins, Author and Critic

John McLean is one of Britain’s foremost abstract artists: his paintings and sculptures are on display in some of the worlds great collections; the stained glass windows he designed for Norwich cathedral have been compared to Matisse’s at Chapelle Du Rosaire in Vence. Although he is well known amongst his fellow artists and many private collectors, McLean has never made the “big time”; the great American critic, Clement Greenburg was both a fan and a friend and curators like Richard Morphet of the Tate and Paul Moorhouse, now of the National Portrait Gallery, are fulsome in their praise of his work and its importance to contemporary British art.

In the late sixties and early seventies when many artists of McLean’s generation abandoned painting for conceptualism, John, and a few like him, stuck with the brush, the canvas and paint. For them, the medium still held unresolved issues; far from being “dead”, abstract painting offered infinite visual and intellectual avenues to pursue. For these stoic painters the studio is their laboratory of experimentation, a place that sees ecstatic success and crushing failure. In John’s case the result is some truly beautiful works of art.

In “Which Way Up”, a documentary film by director, Michael Proudfoot and cameraman Chris Morphet, we see John McLean revelling in both the successes and the failures of his explorations into shape, colour and line. We get a rare glimpse of an artist at work; eavesdropping on his thought processes, insights, influences and his ever present, irreverent, Scottish sense of humour.

Towards the end of 2013 McLean was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Latterly this diagnosis has been adjusted to the more serious MSA (Multiple Systems Atrophy). Despite the disability brought on by the disease, McLean continues to paint enthusiastically. His movement and ability to travel to his studio in Deptford, South London are severely restricted but with the help of two assistants McLean’s exploration into painting continues.

“Which Way Up” is not the sob story of an elderly artist in physical decline, it is a life-enhancing portrait of one our greatest unsung creators. You come away from Proudfoot and Morphet’s film wanting to take up painting yourself and see the world as McLean sees it: as a place full of possibilities, of colour, humour, beauty and optimism.

Award of Excellence – IndieFest 2017
Glasgow Film Festival – 2018

All welcome. Refreshments will be provided. This is a free event.

Coach parties acceptedFacilities for educational visitsPublic toiletsAccepts groups

Children welcomeDisabled access

Event details

Dates Times
Tue 29 May 2018 19:00 to 20:30
Runtime: 78min


Free entry

Also at this Venue

Events at this Venue

date event
Tue 29 May Film Screening: Which Way Up



Plan route to Gibberd Gallery using Google mapsPlan route using Google maps

Map reference: TL 446097  Lat: 51.76730 Long: 0.09413

Parking: with charge

Accessible by Public Transport: 1 mile from Harlow station


  • Coach parties acceptedCoach parties accepted
  • Facilities for educational visitsFacilities for educational visits
  • Public toiletsPublic toilets
  • Accepts groupsAccepts groups
  • Children welcomeChildren welcome
  • Disabled accessDisabled access

Self-Assessed Accessibility Details


  • The surface of the car park and pathway leading to entrance:
    • Yesis solid
  • The route from the parking area to the entrance:
    • YesHas a ramp

Public Areas

  • Level access (no steps/thresholds) or access by ramp or lift:
    • YesFrom the entrance to reception / ticket area
    • YesTo a specially adapted public toilet suitable for wheelchair users
  • YesGood contrast between the floor and walls
  • YesLift equipped with verbal floor announcements
  • YesLift equipped with raised floor numbers or braille numbers or letters
  • YesContrast markings on clear surfaces such as glass doors


  • YesRamp to entrance
    • YesHandrail by ramp
  • YesEntrance is well lit
  • YesAutomatic door at the main entrance


  • YesSeating available for visitors with limited mobility
  • YesGood colour/tonal contrast for visually impaired visitors
  • YesRoutes/pathways suitable for wheelchair users or visitors with limited mobility
  • YesDisplays at suitable height for wheelchair users / children
  • YesAudible alarm system
  • YesVisual alarm system


If you have any concerns about access to the building or the gallery please call in advance and we will be happy to answer any questions.