Ian McKay

Born 1962, Ian is a writer, art critic, and cultural historian, with a keen interest in promoting the visual arts and crafts of the far Northern Highlands of Scotland. For over 25 years, he worked as a senior lecturer in art history and cultural studies, and has been writing on the arts, crafts, and culture industries since the mid-1980s. His work has appeared in over thirty countries worldwide, being published by Cassell Illustrated, Wiley, Octopus, Free Association Books, Flowers, and State Media (among others). In addition he has written on environmental issues and social history, and is a leading authority on the work of the British modern artist Bernard Cohen. In 2010, Ian founded Hatchet Green Press, our independent publishing imprint. He also maintains a visual art, craft, and culture Blog titled A New North.

On Creativity

On Creativity

"I can't think of a time when I haven't been working on a creative project of some kind or other – many of them overlapping or running concurrently. Even when I was establishing myself as a writer and working a day job as a ditch-digger, a social worker, a special educational needs teacher – whatever it was – there was always 'a project' running simultaneously or parallel to that. When I look back over my life, what I see is a person driven by the creative project as my reason for being. It is also the case that the work of others that I find most intriguing or compelling is that which is made by writers, artists, and craftmakers with a similar 'take' on creativity, too. I'm fascinated by creativity as action; that drive that one has to constantly create – sometimes as a means to go on, even."




Writing on the Wall – Essays on Art & Culture
Bernard Cohen: About Now
Writings on Art & Politics
Writings on Photography
Writings on Psychogeography
Boyd & Evans: Looking Differently
The New Forest: A Pocket Companion
The New Forest: A Gated Community of the Mind
Notes From the Wild Zone
Motor Tours in the New Forest and Its Neighbourhood
A New Forest Reader
Bernard Cohen: Work of Six Decades
Defining Moments in Art
Locating the Wild Zone: A Psychogeography of the Dance Culture
Lonely is an Eyesore
Bridges: The Daiwa Foundation Touring Show
On the Death of Czech Culture


Ian currently works as 'Editor at Large' for both STATE and F22 magazines. Previously, he served as Editor at Large (Austria) for those magazines, as well as Founder-Editor of the Journal of Psychogeography & Urban Research, Special Correspondent (Eastern Europe) for Photoicon, and Assistant Editor for Contemporary Art magazine. He has also worked as a freelance language consultant for Cambridge University Press in Warsaw. Since the mid-1980s, he has been a regular contributor to a wide range of magazines, journals, and periodicals, including:

Alba; The Antique Collector; Apollo; Art Book News; Art & Design; Art Issues Magazine; Art Monthly; The Artist; Artist's and Illustrator's Magazine; Artline International; Art Review; Artscribe; Artworks; Association of Illustrator’s Journal; British Bike Magazine; Computer Weekly; Contemporary Art; Crafts; Creative Camera; Country Standard; Dischord (online); Earthlines; F22; The Face; Galleries; The Geographical Magazine; The Independent on Sunday; International Publishing Review; The Irony of Romanticism; The Leisure Painter; Modern Painters; National Trust Travel Review; Photoicon; Practical Crafts; Private Eye; The Press & Journal; RA (Royal Academy) Magazine; State (formerly State of Art); Sight & Sound; Time Out (London); What Restaurant & Theatre; What's On In London; The Whistler; and XYZ Design & Technology.

On Arts Writing

On Arts Writing

"I consider myself lucky in the sense that, when I started out as a writer in the 1980s, there was such a wide range of arts publications on the market, with editors who it was a joy to work for. Many of those publications are sadly no longer with us, having succumbed to the economic downturn of the mid- to late-1990s. Others, meanwhile, morphed into 'culture zines' with a very different remit, often focussing on the celebrity status of the artist rather than the work itself. I've always been of the opinion that the arts writing that matters is that which introduces the reader to 'the work' of the artist, rather than focussing on their lifestyle or celebrity status. It is, first and foremost, the work that matters and should be the primary focus."




Essays on Art & Culture, 1988-2018
By Ian McKay

Due late-2018, Writing on the Wall: Essays on Art & Culture, 1988-2018 will celebrate 30 years of Ian's writing on the visual arts, craft, and photography, as well as cinema, the performing arts, and several key essays on the state of our culture industries in the late-20th and early-21st centuries. The essays, analyses, reviews, and critical writings in this 300 page anthology are drawn from many of the periodicals mentioned above, and represent Ian's Europe-wide travels as an arts writer during a period of significant social and political change.


"If one required an exemplar of insightful writing about an artist and their art, this should be in the frame. Ian McKay interrogates the work, peeling away layers and offering glimpses of references, both broadly literary and deeply personal, in language as elegant as the art he excavates."

University of the Arts London, in ‘Art in Print’

"In the late-1980s, I published some insightful texts by a young writer with a fresh take on events and who could spot the emerging trends of the day. Over twenty years later, that same intrepid scribe became an integral part of my team for Photoicon, with the hazy title of Editor at Large in Europe. Some of Ian McKay’s most insightful texts on photography were printed in Photoicon."

in ‘Writings on Photography’

"The first British art critic to emphasize the negative impact of the western art market following the breakdown of communism in the east European states post-1989."

Curator of Contemporary Art
Seattle Art Museum