Born on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, in 1977, Laith McGregor is an Australian artist currently living and working in Byron Bay. McGregor is known for producing portraits using the humble biro, large-scale durational drawings, as well as sculptural installations featuring unconventional drawing mediums and surfaces.
For Free/State, the 2022 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, McGregor produced an almost five-metre long pencil drawing titled HOPE (2022). Created over the course of a year, line by line, the meticulous graphite work ekes out the compressed scenes of a fictional tropical landscape, a mid-layer of realistic renderings of earthenware water vessels and top layer of hard-edged abstract shapes borrowed from nautical distress flags. The nautical theme continues in McGregor’s work Strange Days (2022), an installation of 1095 recycled bottles gathered over the past three years, one for each day of the year. Each bottle contains a text, drawing, note or message created by participating audience members. Affixed to the gallery wall, the bottles mark out ‘S.O.S.’ – a maritime mayday signal historically tapped out in Morse code.
'Year 11 students examined the installation Strange Days as well as the work Hope created by McGregor in Free/State. We then turned our focus to the idea of art as social commentary, with refugees being an important issue to explore. Students created etchings from images of the Ukraine refugee crisis as well as other refugee concerns around the world. Students then created casts of their own hands using their prints. Assembling a 3D installation to create the word HOPE. The focus of the installation was of hope and support, so students considered the hand as a means to show reaching, holding, connecting and symbols of peace and love'. - Harriet Geater-Johnson, Art Teacher