Jay McKay: "Blue Mind" ARTEXPRESS, Art Gallery of New South Wales

The AnArt4Life blog has an exciting new artist to introduce to you. Jay McKay is a young man with enormous artistic talent and has just been selected as just one of 50 students to be represented in ARTEXPRESS at the Art Gallery of NSW from over 8,000 2023 HSC student applicants who submitted art for assessment for the award.
Jay McKay (Photo provided by Kevin McKay)

ARTEXPRESS is an annual exhibition featuring a selection of outstanding student artworks developed for the artmaking component of the HSC examination in visual arts in NSW. It includes a broad range of approaches and expressive forms, including ceramics, collection of works, documented forms, drawing, graphic design, painting, photomedia, printmaking, sculpture, textiles and fibre, and time-based forms.1

The first ARTEXPRESS exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales was held in 1983. Since 1989, the Art Gallery has been the principal venue for ARTEXPRESS, displaying bodies of work by students from across NSW.1

Inside ARTEXPRESS lets you explore artists and works back to 2005. It includes process diaries for some students and related artworks in the Art Gallery’s collection to consider.1

"Blue Mind" paintings by Jay McKay submitted ARTEXPRESS (Credit: Art Gallery of New South Wales)

Jay (from Bradfield Senior College, Sydney NSW) explains that:

The term, blue mind, refers to the healing state of tranquillity that comes from engagement with a body of water. In the chaos of the modern world the ocean provides an anchor for the self. Mind and body reach a steady rhythm with the ebb and flow of the tides, opening space for clarity, focus and peace.1

My body of work represents morning light and emptiness along Cronulla’s coast line, exploring the behaviour of light, stillness and movement to express an intimacy with the environment. The blue mind is a universally understood state, creating feelings higher than one’s self. 1

Jay's Influencing Artists are: Claude Monet, Arthur Streeton, JMW Turner and Mark Rothko. You can see Jay's interest in Turner's style in one of the pages shown below from his Process Diary.

Pages from the Process Diary of Jay McKay (Credit: Art Gallery of New South Wales)

For anyone living or visiting Sydney in the next couple of months, the ARTEXPRESS 2024 exhibition is on from 8 February – 21 April 2024 at the Art Gallery of New South Wales South Building, Lower level 2.

If you are interested and no able to attend please follow the bookmark link below to the ARTEXPRESS website which includes a virtual tour of the students' work.

ARTEXPRESS 2024 | Art Gallery of NSW
Jay McKay on the steps of the Art Gallery of New South Wales (Photo provided by Kevin McKay)

Let us take a closer look at some of the paintings Jay McKay submitted to ARTEXPRESS under the rubric of Blue Mind and for me each painting (all of which were painted in acrylic) is like a visual poem.

The first painting below is very representative of Jay's concept of Blue Mind, conveying the tranquility of engagement with water he speaks of. What I love personally about this painting is the subtly of the very, very pale blue foreground (gently touched with the pink of the rising or setting sun) and inviting the viewer to embrace and take a step forward into another state of mind.

"Blue Mind" #1 by Jay McKay

The next painting features rock pools which Jay loves to paint - and you will see more of these in tomorrow's post when we examine his visual poems in detail.

The contrast he creates between the colours of the sea and those in the rock faces is wonderful. The rock pools also form an additional element to Jay's visual narrative about the sea and its surroundings - a narrative he invites you to create in your mind as you step into his visual world.

"Blue Mind" #2 by Jay McKay

The last painting of Jay's we will look at today is dedicated to the shoreline which in terms of a narrative theme might be Chapter One, or of course the last chapter - depending upon where your mind is wandering and wondering on its journey.

I have never thought of defining a colour, in this case blue as a motif in a painting. But I would like to explore this idea with those of you who like to comment on the posts. Can a colour be a motif?

"Blue Mind" #3 by Jay McKay

This talented young man has put together a short video explaining the thoughts and processes he used when producing these paintings and the evolution of the title for his works Blue Mind.

And for users of Instagram you can register your feelings about Jay's paintings on the page for his school, Bradfield Senior College as shown below.

Bradfield Senior College on Instagram: “ART EXPRESS @ Art Gallery of NSW: From Wednesday Feb 7th until April 21st, Jay McKay’s 2023 Visual Arts major work ‘Blue Mind’ will be displayed as part of the Art Express collection at the Art Gallery of NSW. This is a great achievement, and we congratulate both him and the Visual Arts team (led by Kim Kofod). To celebrate this, we re-feature the interview with Jay that appeared on our feed in November. Jay speaks to the inspiration of the collection of landscapes. The full interview can be viewed on our youtube page (a link is on our linktree). The opening of Art Express will be 5pm-10pm on Wednesday February 7th. More information on the exhibition is linked from our Linktree. #artexpress #artgallerynsw #agnsw #bradfieldseniorcollege #visualarts #landscapes”
65 likes, 3 comments - bradfieldsc on January 31, 2024: “ART EXPRESS @ Art Gallery of NSW: From Wednesday Feb 7th until April 21st, Jay McKay’s 2023 Visu...”

If you would like to checkout Jay's submission to ArtExpress in more detail please follow the bookmark link below.

Jay McKay | Art Gallery of NSW

For Instagram users Jay's page is @jmckayart and can be found by clicking here.

© Thank you to Jay McKay who kindly gave permission for the images of his work to be shared on AnArt4Life.

And a special thank you also to Kevin McKay who assisted in the presentation of this post.