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Peter Wakelin

Pursued by a Bear: The Art of William McClure Brown

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This book will be released in May 2025

Pre-orders are charged at time of order and the book will be posted to you as soon as it becomes available.

UK postage is 99 pence per order.

Polar bears and Arctic explorers, the lore of the loup-garou, the mischief of the Mari Lwyd, fighter-jets in desert skies: William McClure Brown’s mind travelled many paths to celebrate story-making and the power of the unexpected in vivid imagery.

Born to Scottish parents in Canada in 1953, as a teenager he knew painters in the Toronto scene and began to evolve his own creative language. From 1977 he was based in London and south-west England before settling in Wales in 1990. While he exhibited internationally he was admired most in his close community of fellow artists.

He found inspiration in Devon, northern France, Galicia, North Africa, the South Wales valleys and the Inuit communities of Hudson Bay. He collaborated with painters and poets, learned Welsh, made public art, held residencies in schools, and created images for Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci. William Brown died in 2008, age 54. This is the first book to explore the full range of his startling, audacious work.

A defining trait of human nature is, I believe, the imagination – at once the alleviation of tedium, the bringing of a sense of fun and maybe, just maybe, illumination. William Brown

If William had chosen to live in France or Spain, a museum would be established devoted to showing his work as an inspiration to future generations. Mary Lloyd Jones

For all that beauty that he added to our world. Lucien Suel

He was a great whirlwind of a man, a flaming presence, an unconventional teacher, generous inspirer, amazing colourist and a passionate, restless painter who simply couldn’t put down his brush … He was a shaft of light that cuts through the forest. Jon Gower

Bold colours, clear, powerful iconographics, and a unique body of work replete with narratives. There was no mistaking a William Brown painting when you came across it – there was a directness and a lack of guile that a child would recognise at once – but his work was also extremely resourceful in its ‘simplicity’. Iwan Bala


Peter Wakelin has published books on the artists Charles Burton, Roger Cecil, Falcon Hildred, George Little and Sally Moore and has been a contributor to Art Review, Modern Painters and The Guardian. His exhibitions include Hill-rhythms: David Jones + Capel-y-ffin at y Gaer in Brecon, Refuge and Renewal: Migration and British Art at the Royal West of England Academy and Romanticism in the Welsh Landscape at MoMA Machynlleth. He is a former Director of Collections at the National Museum of Wales and President of the Contemporary Art Society for Wales.