Key facts about the artist

Wealth is Shared - No One Charges, No One Pays
Wealth is Shared - No One Charges, No One Pays (2000)

McCail's work often resembles school textbooks or public information campaigns
University of Kent and Goldsmiths, London
Wealth is Shared was influenced by the Ladybird children's book
Thankerton, South Lanarkshire


About Chad's work

Chad McCail’s work recalls the kind of visual information that we are bombarded with every day. His drawings, paintings, prints and sculpture recall school textbooks, how-to guides, comics and the instructional pamphlets, posters and slogans that are a feature of public information campaigns.

This material is often used by authority figures such as governments or teachers, but the artist turns his sources on their head. Rather than telling us what we should or shouldn’t do he uses these techniques to imagine and describe ideal worlds where people take care of each other and share their resources without conflict. Or he uses images as a way to explain the processes that he believes have driven our fear of such change. McCail’s subject is ourselves: how we grow up, are educated, our workplaces, our economy, relationships between the sexes and the very structure of society itself. 

Some of his work imagines a utopian future where we are happy and free. Wealth is Shared (2000) is a series of three paintings, influenced by the simple texts and images of Ladybird children’s books. They show a world where the wealthy share their property and where men and women strive to understand and improve their relationships. In the third of these paintings, Wealth is Shared – No One Charges, No One Pays, a supermarket has been changed into a giant greenhouse where people grow and harvest food and children play happily in a nearby river.

Other works describe the processes which McCail thinks restrain or intimidate our emotional and intellectual development. Monoculture (2010) is a large print influenced by the look of early computer games and the way they allow players to progress upwards through different levels of the game. It shows children being educated and finally emerging into the world. However, the teachers are shown as stiff, pixelated robot figures and as the children move upwards through the system they lose their individuality and become robotic too. The adult world they enter is a grey desecrated landscape of factories and smoke. McCail’s work uses deceptively simple means to tell us about our complex world and how we might change it.


Chad McCail (born 1961 in Manchester) studied English at the University of Kent and obtained a BA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths, University of London in 1989. His solo exhibitions include: Systemic, Northern Gallery of Contemporary Art, Sunderland (2010); We are not dead, Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow (2006); Food, Shelter, Clothing, Fuel, Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore (2004); and Life is driven by the desire for pleasure, The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh (2003). His many group exhibitions include Eye on Europe: Prints, Books and Multiples, 1960 to Now, MoMA, New York (2006); British Art Show 5, UK touring exhibition (2000); and Becks Futures, ICA, London (2000). He lives and works in Thankerton, South Lanarkshire.

More information

Chad McCail: Life is driven by the desire for pleasure, The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, 2003

Chad McCail, Active Genital, Bookworks, London, 2002

Elsewhere on the web