© John Beattie.

‘Long Distance Drawing (McNaughtons Tree)’, is a response to the social, political, and historical myths of Prehen House, Derry. A heritage site located on the Waterside of Derry. Commissioned by The Context Gallery, Derry, curated by Declan Sheehan and Greg McCartney, this process-based and context specific work recalls the local myth and legend of John McNaughton, locally known as ‘The ghost of Half-Hanged McNaughton’ (1761).

Beattie employs the use of video, performance, and drawing, to stage a scene where he attempted to draw the image of a tree onto a 10x12inch canvas board, at long-distance, using an extended drawing tool, whilst viewing his process, from within the white-cube-gallows like structure containing a monitor. The interior monitor, connects to the end of the drawing device, where Beattie has attached a video camera to view his progress. The resulting work and research was first exhibited at The Orchard Gallery, as part of ‘The Context Gallery off-site projects’.

About Prehen House

A rare and sophisticated early Georgian family home, prehen house boasts one of Ireland’s finest interiors. It is a designated grade A building of national importance lying within idyllic landscaped parkland. Home to the historic Knox family, there is a lively and dramatic history ranging from the Legend of Half-Hanged McNaughton, to the escape of a German Baron from British authorities.

About John Mc Naughton

The Legend of Mary Ann Knox has forever gained a place in the folklore of Ireland. A daughter of Andrew Knox, she first encountered John Mc Naughton when she was 15 years old. He was twice her age and a gambler. In deep financial trouble, he was made welcome at Prehen by Andrew Knox. But McNaughton developed a fatal attraction for the young Mary Ann. When it was discovered that Mary Ann had been tricked into a secret marriage with Mc Naughton, they realised that he was after her dowry to feed his gambling habit. Preparations were quickly made to take Mary Ann to safety. On November the 10th 1761, Andrew set off with his daughter to Dublin. But the Knox coach was ambushed by Mc Naughton, and in the mayhem Mary Ann was fatally shot by her lover. Mc Naughton went to the gallows but the hang-mans rope broke. With a chance of escape offered by an uproarious crowd Mc Naughton said that he did not want to be known as half-hanged. After being hung a second time, he has forever and ironically since been known as Half-Hanged Mc Naughton, and it is believed that his ghost still haunts Prehen House.
More about John Mc Naughton


- Color video projection with sound, duration 10mins, 2007.
- Ball-point pen drawing on canvas board, 10x12inch, 2007.
- C-print on acrylic with diamond cut finish, 2007.

The exhibition featured the publication 'PROCESS: John Beattie Catalogue', with introductory texts by Declan Sheehan, and essays by Dr.Christa Mia Lerm Hayes (University of Ulster, Belfast), and Dr.Brian Fay (Head of Fine Art, D.I.T, Dublin). Published by The Context Gallery, 2007.