In 2002, McPeake had to abandon a long career in stage lighting design due to the loss of most of his eyesight and returned to arts education and practice on a full time basis. He has been awarded a first class Honours Degree in Arts, Design and Environment from Central Saint Martins (2005), Post-Graduate Certificate Learning and Teaching (2011) and a PhD from Chelsea (2012).
His PhD thesis, Nibbling at Clouds – The Visual Artist Encounters Aventitious Blindness, is an holistic study of the impacts vision loss has on the visual artist. The thesis draws on the experiences of a panel of artists (who lost eyesight in later life) and includes his own experience as well as how he has developed his own practice. The resulting artworks are a consequence of engaging with subjective themes and making processes, which have been mutually informative.
McPeake works with numerous media from wood, metal and ceramics to film, photography and sound sculpture and recording. His work places emphasis on the possibility for many types of readings and he views the process of making artwork as akin to writing poetry – where physical encounters and visual imagination is integral to both its making and reception. Another important aspect of his work, particularly his sculptural and installation practice, relates to beholders’ relationship to the work and the agency it can afford them. Most of his work can be physically interacted with – touched and rung providing unique experiences.
He has received a number of private and public art and design commissions and has exhibited widely in the UK, Europe, USA and Australia since 1997. He has completed many artist residencies in the UK, Spain. Nepal and Burma and continues to be engaged in teaching and research.