Gladiator is one of my all time favourite movies, it is just a truly spectacular film! It has been on the list to do right back since 2016. I always had in my head that it would be a silhouetted character rising up from the colloseum, surrounded by olive trees that were breaking through the crumbling stones, a very spiritual piece. There was an image that I did a good number of years back entitled ‘Now you’re free’ that many would never have associated with the movie and it was great that the collector who bought it, did so for the sentiment. The sense of finally being set free from restrictions, a female figure made entirely from butterflies, walking through the fields towards a house set within the Tuscan countryside. It had a very similar concept but done in a totally different way.
For ‘Strength & Honour’, this was a chance to do something much more blatant towards the movie’s aesthetics. The original plan was to make it much more dramatic, with raging lions and battles but what you now see is how my mind works, how I interpret a subject from a spark that resonates within the narrative of the film and how I find a connection. I guess that is what makes me so different to another with a similar skillset who will take the piece in a different direction. It is the mind that makes it.
Again, it all comes back to this sense of being set free from restriction, from being kept away from your family, being enslaved, forced to fight for what you do and don’t believe in. Maximus’s battles are all laid out before you before ultimately being set free, albeit through his death. It was the part of the film that really struck a chord, amplified by the haunting soundtrack. Music has always played a key role in my work, I remember years back trying to find the particular songs were and that was the days before ‘Spotify’ where everything is now ‘on tap’. It was great to listen to the same songs on repeat, immediately after watching the movie and throughout creating what you now see. Without doubt, it amplifies everything that I strived to inject into this scene.
What you see is Maximus’s journey from start to finish, with all of the details from his battles displayed. A crumbling, broken amphitheatre opens out to reveal his family home beneath the beauty of the Tuscan landscape. A truly beautiful scene, the lighting is stunning, the colours are beautiful, I absolutely love it! Probably the most wonderful detail is the three white horses that gallop into view. These represent Maximus, his wife and his son who are now reunited in the afterlife and free to roam. It is a classic example of how details are born during creating a piece from being completely immersed in the emotion of what you are building. I love the concept that if you are stood there looking at this scene a split second before or after you would have missed such an incredible sight. It injects a quality of movement against the static, contrasting against the objects laid out on the ground, even down to the tiger just stood and staring rather than looking menacing. This huge animal has no battles left to fight, it is one of my favourite parts of the piece.
I absolutely love how it has come together, I love the Bougainvillea flowers that creep into view, a plant that reminds me of Menorca and one that I still grow in my studio, just! The fallen rose petals link to the final fight scene of the movie, falling through the sky adds to the sense of movement before coming to rest. There are so many subtle, beautiful details in this image. It is one that you really need to stand there in front of it, to embrace the spirit of the movie and the underlying meaning that I believe will resonate with many for many a different reason. I guess I am realising that even more now that so many people collect my work for the sentiment that the piece embodies rather than just the love for the movie itself.
As soon as I hung the original work on the wall for photographing I knew I was going to really miss it and I do, I bloody miss it! It is an incredibly powerful image that I have loved every minute of being involved with and I am so proud of what this piece represents.
Collection: Lost In Hollywood 4
Edition Size: 10 + 2AP
Specification: Hand embellished heavyweight artist canvas, double framed, 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