Hill - deck (1978) is representative of the finally crafted painted wooden sculptures that McKeown produced in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Hill - deck is mounted on the gallery wall and projects out, sloping downward at a 45° angle, which from a frontal viewpoint makes the work appear deceptively solid. The gentle curve of the 'hill' has been constructed like a deck, as the title suggests, whereby the thin gaps between the miniature wooden boards appear as metaphorical geographic contour lines.
The viewer's attention is drawn to a small 'man-made' structure that punctuates the slope of the 'hill', its toylike associations a means of exploring childhood memories. Hill - deck can be seen to articulate concerns similar to the near-contemporary sculpture of Joel Shapiro and in particular his 'houses', such as Untitled 1975-76 (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York).
Hill - deck complements other small-scale works in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia. These include Michael Hurson's Hallway 1972, Shapiro's Untitled (chair) 1974 and Ken Price's Untitled (1979), which present a critique of the monumental Modernist sculpture as represented, for example, by Mark di Suvero's Ik ook 1971-72.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010