Malcolm Mackay

Artist’s statement

It began in Adelaide, whilst walking through the city centre admiring the architecture. Adelaide, is a cultured city that saw great prosperity in times gone by and celebrated its success with great architecture. The latter part of the 20th century was less kind to Adelaide but, as a result, many of its older buildings weren’t torn down and replaced with glass boxes, as was the case in more prosperous cities such as Perth.

Walking around Adelaide’s city centre I lamented the fact that current generations of architects lack the knowledge and skills to design buildings of such richness and beauty. It occurred to me that I knew at least something of the lost art and, perhaps, I could do something to keep the tradition alive: if not through real buildings, then at least though architectural drawing.

As my friend, Chip Kaufmann, said to me; “the real value in heritage and tradition is not in worshiping the ashes, but keeping the fire alive”. And so, an idea was born.

In creating the images, I’ve given myself five simple rules:


1. Don’t draw existing buildings. If you want an image of an existing building, then take a photograph, but in doing so you’re simply worshipping the ashes of a prior generation. Keeping the flame of tradition alive requires the learning and application of the design skills of previous generations.


2. Don’t work in the personal ‘style’ of another architect; focus on the architecture than comes from a place and/or a time, rather than a particular person. With a few exceptions, great architecture transcends the charisma of an individual person.


3. Draw freehand. In an age of computers and digital photography, we consume the ‘perfection’ of digital imagery with such ease that we barely notice the content. A freehand drawing not only encourages the viewer to pause and, hopefully, think about has been drawn, but demonstrates that architecture is a human endeavour, not the output of a machine


4. Work with the natural harmonies of proportion. Proportion lies at the heart of everything we consider beautiful. We are attuned to proportion to the point that our appreciation of it is instinctive. So why has it become a lost skill for our current generations of architects?


5. Avoid absolute symmetry. Why? Symmetry is a powerful design device that, like capital letters and exclamation marks, can be over used. Symmetry is at its most pleasing when it is incorporated into the elements of an asymmetrical composition.


Malcolm Mackay 2013

Works for Sale