I am so proud that my 2022 piece entitled ‘Love Knows No Bounds’ received the levels of affection that it did. Whilst we are surrounded by such poor taste, I was determined to create a beautiful tribute to acknowledge the truly sad passing of our Queen.
A signature trait of my work is to create an image with a multi-layered narrative, one where you can simply enjoy it at face value or think a little deeper and look a little closer to discover a stronger meaning that, regardless of its driving force, is always open to your interpretation.
This shone so brightly with the aforementioned piece. It’s majestic. The concept of love knowing no bounds (something that I have built a body of work on since 2017) radiates from that image what with the various details that all link to their individual relationships with Her Late Majesty.
Everyone finds their connection with art for their own reason, and I love that, but with ‘Love Knows No Bounds’ there was a little detail, or should I say a little bear that is mentioned more than any other, Paddington. As a nation, our love for the little man is special and has remained in our hearts since childhood – it’s impossible not to love him.
As a Storyteller there is always a new chapter to be written and ‘A Letter to Her Majesty’ is mine.
The overriding concept was to explore the impact on those that are left behind to grieve after someone so special has passed. However, through being driven by a sense of hope by seeking comfort and support through others who are close by, it is the love and positivity that drives this piece. At first glance and on noticing the tiny details, sadness will hold you for that moment but then look a little longer and the warmth radiates just like the sun shines through the forest past Windsor castle.
In 2017 and as part of my ‘Love Knows No Bounds’ collection I created a beautiful piece entitled ‘A Letter to Aunt Lucy’ – an image of Paddington sat forlorn with his letter that he didn’t get the chance to send it to his dear Aunt before she passed. My original intention for this new piece was to continue this concept, however despite the image turning out beautifully – it was a little too sad, it lacked what was needed, hope.
I have embraced the connection between two people, or animals in this case. To shine a light on the positive impact that being close to another can have. Just look at that touch of the Corgis’ paw on Paddington’s arm. Subtle, not showy or elaborate – just honest and real. Look closely – have you seen both have a solitary tear falling down their face? Beautiful. Yet, it is a case of strength in numbers. Some are closer, physically, and emotionally but never discard the role of another who may be stood a little further away – their love remains the same, but their character varies – so they watch from a distance, but their guidance can be significant.
I am often asked how I set about planning a new piece and it’s a great question. It really does depend on the art itself and its reason. So, for certain pieces that need to either start a series or become a continuation of an existing one, the approach is completely different. Planning, positioning, tactics are all key. Yet for pieces such as what you see here, no. The seed is born from the heart and is grown and driven by genuine, real emotion. It is art with meaning, and it always will be, authenticity in its most beautiful form. It is through channelling all this that makes the result so full of impact and honesty and why it connects so strongly.
‘A Letter to her Majesty’ is as much about a letter from Paddington as one from myself. Like I said, the concept evolved – why? Because of where my head and heart are. I am an artist who is a son who has lost their beloved Father in September 2022. I am 45-year-old man who prides himself on his strength of character, yet I have been smashed to pieces, completely and utterly broken. At the time of writing this, it is a matter of weeks short of a year and with how freely the tears flow from just typing the word ‘Father’, it is a blatant reminder that I am struggling to deal with such an unbearable, claustrophobic sense of loss.
I have written so many chapters where my words have reached out to others to try and help, to find strength, comfort, and direction and now I need to do the same for myself. I accept and understand why I am where I am at this stage. I know I am strong enough to deal with it in time, just not now. For years I have grafted to set myself up with things that would help distract and help, not heal but help. I don’t mean materials; I mean the things that combine to create a sense of calm and that help lift you. I am so lucky to have a wonderful family so close to me that I know will continue to make a difference.
The words that I penned as Paddington are from my heart and that is why the ink runs. Does that make the boy in the blue coat me? No, Paddington is everyone who has ever lost someone and who still has so much to say and who are jealous of the angels that sit around their loved one’s thrones tonight.
It is almost ten years ago since I embarked on this art journey and right from the start, I have made it clear that art for me is everything, it is how I bleed but ultimately how I heal. It is my escape and my outlet for my emotions. The entire time there has been absolute heartache and battles outside of the studio and it is my art and my collectors that have formed such an incredible distraction that I will be eternally grateful for, you are like no other. Thank you for everything. x
Collection: Love Knows No Bounds
Edition Size: 96 + 10AP
Specification: Limited edition fine art print, hand signed by artist.
When workload allows Mark embraces client commissions and has enjoyed amazing success to date. If you have been inspired by the work that you have seen and have a specific idea or simply a seed then please do get in touch.
This piece is ultimately a gritty prison cell scene from within Shawshank State Penitentiary that features a good number of references to the movie plot which is dominated by the escape element but where this has been adapted to represent a more conceptual message that reaches out to a greater audience than just those who love the film itself.
Shawshank Redemption is such a powerful film, not just aesthetically but one that conveys such an enduring power of hope, perfect for my work and the message that I look to portray as often as possible. I have set about creating a scene that is at first study an engaging take on the plot, a window into Andy’s cell but through modifying the tunnel element to the piece it exposes a greater depth.
The tunnel is shallower yet no less dramatic, almost window-like. I have set the view through this window to show the iconic shoreline scene of Zihuatanejo - Mexico. This creates a more direct and blatant vision of where Andy hopes to be one day once free. To reinforce this I have chosen to indicate that the hole in the wall was covered in fact by a simple picture of the same scene rather than of the poster from the movie that is torn down by the Governor. This creates a different take on the original narrative whilst more importantly reaches out to so many of us that have innocent aspirations, hopes and dreams.
The beach view could mean leaving their worries and their fears behind and creating a new life for themselves or it could simply represent a holiday. Both are of equal importance as a something deemed more simple could represent a much much bigger challenge through restrictions such as money or other restrictive factors. Andy hoped to walk the sands of that beach from being wrongly incarcerated for close to 20 years and subjected to a terrifying ordeal, to another person it could represent their hope of one day being able to travel after being set free from the shackles of debt, cast over them from someone else’s doing, both represent good being restricted and caged, birds aren’t meant to be caged.
The image through the wall represents something different to everyone who has hope and fights to keep hold of it. Most often a task that appears huge and impenetrable can be chipped away at through time with something simple. The fact that the breakthrough was made with a tiny hammer is why I have placed the tool in the foreground, supporting its importance but reinforcing its size. On all levels it showcases the call to those have been dealt a bad card in life to not just accept it, to establish a way to win and to be free and to achieve ones’ dreams rather than giving up and accepting, to get busy living or get busy dying. The objects placed within the scene are a mix of actual objects that those who know and love the classic movie will recognise and some less obvious, more conceptual details that make you think.
Good has flown away, illustrated by the dove feathers whilst the bad remains only to look out in isolation, symbolised by the solitary black crow that is featured to represent the corrupt Governor who is left to peer through the hole in defeat. The browned falling oak leaves symbolise time escaping for Andy’s friend Red to gain freedom and set out to find what Andy had buried under that solitary oak tree. Andy was a lover of Chess, his time in prison and his plot to escape were a tactical battle, culminating in a masterstroke by the ‘Pawn’ in defeating the ‘King’, this is depicted subtley within the scene.
The other details I will leave for you to find and consider. I genuinely loved watching the Shawshank Redemption years ago, albeit back then more on face value, now, with way more life experience I embrace absolutely everything that it stands for and I hope that I have done justice to a true masterpiece.
Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.
Collection: Lost in Hollywood
Edition Size: 25 + 5 AP
Specification: Custom framed, limited edition fine art print, hand signed by artist.
So, this piece literally came out of the blue! In May 2020, as part of my ‘Lost In Hollywood 3’ collection, I created a piece entitled ‘Q-Division’ - a conceptual piece designed to celebrate and combine all of Daniel Craig’s James Bond movies. ‘No Time To Die’ was due to be released that year and I wanted to mark the finale of his fifteen-year tenure as Bond with something special. Then the pandemic took hold, and it is only now (September 2021) that the film finally makes its long-awaited appearance. I was in the middle of creating a piece for my ‘Retrospective 3’ collection when an idea was born, and I just had to run with it. Despite having a clear plan for each month, it was something that got into my head, and I just thought, bollocks to it! I’m doing it! So here we are, with ‘Underwater Love’.
Memories of the classic Bond films as a kid are vivid and special and I cherish them. I lost my way with several of them after that but became drawn to them more for the beautiful introductions that showcase the lead song, they are works of art in themselves. ‘Skyfall’ was an incredible example of this, but it was the hypnotic and surreal qualities of ‘Spectre’ that stuck with me. It is just brilliant! I guess, it is that quality that I strive to inject into my work, and it has driven this piece. The scene is dominated by the beautiful Aston Martin DB10 that is flanked by the backdrop of Rome as Bond waits to welcome Madeleine Swann. The two characters add a real quality to the piece as their eyes are on you, helping to put you in the scene, or just outside of view. If you look closely, you will see that her dress is starting to morph into a mermaid’s tail, it is a beautiful addition.
My portfolio has a good number of underwater pieces, it is the concept of not knowing if you are above or below the surface that I love. So, for this piece you will see that the octopus that creeps and curls itself throughout the intro to ‘Spectre’ is present and is coming towards you, but is it through the air or making its way through the water? ‘Underwater Love’ explores the concept of being under ones’ spell, hypnotised, giddy by their presence and power. Where you are influenced or controlled by one through being fascinated, enchanted, or seduced. Reality gets blurred as you retreat into your own, very different world. This is the point where it could get heavy, intense but that is for another day. If you embrace how I think and work then you will get what this piece can truly symbolise, but it can simply be enjoyed for a beautiful scene made up of beautiful characters, a beautiful car and a beautiful city. So, even though Daniel Craig’s time as Bond nears its end, my apparent love for mermaids lives strong!
Collection: Lost In Hollywood VHS
Edition Size: 20 + 5AP
Specification: - Hand embellished - Floated poster and double mount - Custom spray-painted frame - Sticker decals - Hand signed by artist