Alasdair McGregor
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Biographical notes

Alasdair McGregor
was born in Sydney in 1954. He studied architecture at the University of New South Wales, gaining a Bachelor of Science (Arch.) in 1976 and a Bachelor of Architecture (Hons.) in 1979. After a year working in the Government Architect’s Branch of the New South Wales Department of Public Works, Alasdair decided to pursue a long held dream of becoming a painter. Since the early 1980s he has devoted himself almost exclusively to his artistic self-development, first as a painter, but later also directing his energies to writing and photography.

In the early 1980s he helped organise the Heard Island Expedition, and in early 1983 ventured  aboard the maxi-yacht Anaconda II as the expedition artist. In the following two years Alasdair voyaged to the Antarctic continent and Macquarie Island as part of the Australian Antarctic Division’s Humanities Program. Commissioned works for the Antarctic Division followed, and a stamp issue for the 25th anniversary of the Antarctic Treaty was made by Australia Post in 1986 featuring Alasdair’s designs.

From 1985 to 1990 he worked intermittently in architecture, while also travelling extensively in Australia and the Pacific, furthering his interpretation of the region’s natural landscapes. During his travels he participated in a survey of Aboriginal rock art sites in remote parts of the northern Kimberley region of Western Australia and in 1990 took part in Artists in the Field, a field camp in the Kakadu National Park organised by the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. Further expeditions to the Kimberley resulted in the 1992 publication of The Kimberley: Horizons of Stone, co-written with Quentin Chester. More than a dozen extensive field trips off every Australian coast were undertaken from 1993 to 1995, culminating in the 1997 publication of Australia’s Wild Islands (also with the same co-author). Continuing the island theme, Alasdair’s painting travels have more recently taken him to Vanuatu and the Galapagos Islands. From 1988 to 1991 Alasdair gained experience on the ‘other side’ of the art world as a co-owner and director of Painters Gallery, Sydney.   

From 1996 to 2001 Alasdair was artist and photographer for the AAP Mawson’s Huts Foundation, taking part in three summer expeditions to Commonwealth Bay, Antarctica. His account of the conservation work undertaken at this internationally renowned historic site was published in 1998 as Mawson’s Huts: An Antarctic Expedition Journal.

Since the early 1980s Alasdair has participated in more than a dozen group exhibitions throughout Australia and has staged a similar number of one man shows, including: 1983 – Wind, Ice & Fire: A Journey to Heard Island (travelling exhibition); 1991 – Five Weeks in the Kimberley (Kensington Gallery, Adelaide); Horizons of Stone (Painters Gallery, Sydney); 1996  - Australia’s Wild Islands (Sydney City Galleries); 1999 – Mawson’s Antarctica: A View from the Huts (AAP Centre, Sydney); 2001 – Travels in the Wild (Bloomfield Galleries).

Alasdair McGregor has completed corporate and public commissions both in Australia and overseas and his work is represented in numerous collections, including: The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, The Sir William Dobell Art Foundation, The Australian Antarctic Division, Qantas, Westpac, British Airways, AAP, KPMG, Western Mining Corporation, Suncorp Centre Sydney, Hilton International Brisbane and the Jerradong Park Resort, Brunei. 

In 2001 Alasdair curated the photographic exhibition ‘… that sweep of savage splendour’: A Century of Australians in Antarctica, for the Australian High Commission in Ottawa, Canada.  The exhibition was a Centenary of Federation event and has since toured Canada, Australia and South American countries with a connection to Antarctica. A biography of the exhibition ‘centrepiece’ – renowned Australian photographer, adventurer and filmmaker Frank Hurley – followed. Frank Hurley: A photographer’s life was published in 2004. 

Alasdair's most recent biography was of the American architects, Walter and Marion  Griffin. Grand Obsessions: The life and work of Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin  was supported by the award of a grant from the Literature Board of the Australia Council for the Arts, with research undertaken in both Australia and the United States. 

Further afield, Alasdair’s most recent involvement with Antarctica has seen him working over  seven summer seasons as a lecturer and historian on tourist voyages visiting the  islands of the South Atlantic and the Antarctic Peninsula, the Ross Sea, Adelie Land and the sub-Antarctic islands to the south of Australia and New Zealand. In early 2012 Alasdair made his twenty-fourth voyage to the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic. Staying in Antarctica in a literary sense, 2011 saw the publication of Antarctica: that sweep of savage splendour, a collection of writings edited by Alasdair McGregor.

Writing in shorter forms, Alasdair has been an occasional contributor to various magazines and journals, including Australian Book Review and Australian Geographic.

Alasdair McGregor is a member of the Australian Society of Authors and Sydney Legacy, and is  also a board member of the AIF Malaya Nursing Scholarship. When not travelling, he divides his studio and writing time between inner-city Sydney and a small patch of paradise close to the beach on the south coast of  New South Wales.

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