Ok, so the 2020 ‘Retrospective 2’ collection featured a dedicated movie piece, ‘Midnight at the mall’ which was my take on the brilliant ‘Gremlins’! Given that my ‘Retrospective’ collections are typically in November and timed to be perfect for Christmas presents, I like to get a film in there as movies and Christmas just go together, regardless of the decade. This year I have gone for a concept that focuses in the main on the brilliant ‘BIG’ that starred the equally brilliant Tom Hanks. It is one that has been on my list to look at for an age as it is one that I remember renting from ‘Video Venture’ as a kid.
The main narrative of the film being the wish of a boy to become older and effectively fast forward what would typically be his formulative years is one that really shone to me. ‘Retrospective’ represents the importance of looking back to special memories to inspire you to look forward, to be brighter, happier and more positive, even if only for a moment but that moment is enough to make a difference, or even just to influence a decision. For me personally, I am looking back to my childhood more and more in recent years as it makes me even more appreciative of how great and special things were, it helps. I would give anything to relive parts of it, physically I can’t of course but my art gives me that opportunity to relive it emotionally. So, the idea of a kid wanting to fast forward to adulthood seems so wrong. Yes, I know it’s only a bloody film, so this is where the secondary narrative comes in!
In addition to celebrating a key moment of the movie, there is a positive message to ‘dream BIG’, to open your eyes and imagination and live for the moment, to be a kid. To be inspired through the joy of playing, really playing. Tablets and gadgets dull down the wonder of using imagination to fuel dreams, childhood is where dreams are born. So, what I show in this vivid scene is how the toys that we play with as a kid can become the tools of our careers when the time comes. You’ll see the iconic red and gold BMX and on the opposing side is the stunning red Ferrari. Have you spotted which movie that is from? Ok ignore who’s driving it, that is just showing how I become so consumed in the piece when creating it and those random ideas pop in when you are in that mindset, the big kid remains! I’m not one to list out every reference and reason as I love how you all enjoy seeking those out and trying to fathom what the hell I was thinking!
Going back to the movie itself, one angle was to feature the amazing department store ‘FAO Schwartz’ as I always loved the scene when they dance on the big light-up piano. However, I felt that this could encroach on the 2019 ‘The Memory Remains 2’ toy shop piece that so many love and now own. The store and the piano have both been referenced within this scene, one more obvious than the other! Like I said, ‘BIG’ is a great movie and Hanks plays the role superbly, the narrative is amazing and the toys that feature are just brilliant. I love how so many of them are so different to what we typically remember playing with. But you know me, you know I love the darkness (not the catsuit wearing lot!) and this exists big time (no pun intended) with the character that when he speaks, things happen… ZOLTAR! The deserted boardwalk at night with just the solitary, crappy looking fortune teller machine was an image that always stuck in my head. Would I have had the balls to go over and make my wish? I’d like to think I would but not sure! You?
So, this scene that you now see is dominated by ‘ZOLTAR’, to recreate the cabinet took an age but was really satisfying to see the end result play out just as I had hoped. Those bloody eyes! I’m not sure if it has anything to do with us all being scared shitless by a rumoured ‘dog with red eyes’ that roamed the spinney at the top of our court as kids but when Zoltar’s eyes shone red, there was something there. Powerful! That part of the film was shot brilliantly! The closed and battered shutters of the snack kiosks behind lend themselves to the huge amount of detail that is all blended together giving it a graffiti quality without committing the crime as I know it can cause offence. Oh, hang on, one popped out, sorry buddy! I love the funfair at night set behind the solitude of the boardwalk. It serves as a contrast on how so much activity and crowds can exist so close to a point in time when you find yourself alone in that moment. Shut out all that is going on around you, ignore the freaky green guy toasting mallow and just focus, make your wish!
I would love to think that this piece appeals to more than just those who loved the movie and attracts people to what it stands for. As for Zoltar, I reckon I could go toe to toe with him now, actually, does he have toes? Maybe he could be sat like the newsreaders do, all dolled up in his gear but naff all below. But does he have toes? Do ghosts have teeth? Ok, it’s late and I need to get out of the studio as there’s way too much glass and it’s pitch black. Are there two red dots through the window? Were they taillights in the carpark, I’m sure they were, surely not, no it can’t be! Not the dog with the….! Can someone come and get me please!
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.
As I write this, the completed original piece sits to my right, sparkling in the studio lights on what is a real ‘pea soup’ of an Autumn Day. I am so proud and excited about this piece. It isn’t just the final image, but more the process of how it came to be that I love. I like to engage with people to get their thoughts on possible pieces, often laying about in the studio over a tea and way too many bloody custard creams and I remember the idea for how to follow up on the first two Petrolheads pieces. Feedback and interaction are so important, naturally you must go with your gut feeling but I pride myself on keeping my ego locked away and listening to people that can make a difference and have passion in my work.
Back in 2018 when the first ‘Petrolheads’ was released, I had no idea that the reaction would be that strong. I loved the image and knew that it looked superb, but it was simply one from my ‘A New Chapter’ release. Yet, now it is without doubt the most enquired about piece and has sold out in every possible form. 2020 saw the follow up be released and has gotten a cracking reaction, I love the energy and drama on that piece as a contrast to its’ predecessor. ‘PH2’ followed on perfectly as it told the story about what happened when the film had finished, and they still had gas in the tank. There are more chapters to write on that group of cars, all in good time!
However, I wanted to do something different this time around. The idea was born from discussing possible James Bond pieces back in 2020 when I was brainstorming for what is now ‘Q Division’. The idea of having a stunning backdrop like Monte Carlo behind a selection of iconic Bond vehicles really excited me but I knew that it had more of a ‘Petrolheads’ quality to it, so that was parked (excuse the pun). I have held it back and back until the timing was right and what we see now is the culmination of so much planning and hours in the studio. So, what do you think?!
There aren’t many more spectacular backdrops than the Casino in Monte Carlo, if there are then feel free to suggest them and I will take the credit for any future piece! Joking aside, I love the splendour and intrigue of the building and with the beautiful tones of the fading light it comes to life, as do the cars! Good and evil are parked up side by side, a nod to how close darkness and light reside with each other.
For obvious reasons, Casino Royale is the base for this piece but it, like ‘Q-Division’ and the more recent ‘Underwater Love’ was created to celebrate the end of Daniel Craigs’ time as Bond, slightly delayed due to Covid but we got there eventually! As a kid watching the earlier Bond films it was always the cars and gadgets that excited me, Ok and maybe the Bond girls! There are so many of the classic vehicles that we all love, apologies if your favourite is missing but anymore and it risked looking like grid lock on the M25!
There is so much detail that surrounds the two cars in the foreground, details that hint at unrest and dark forces at work. It’s funny actually, as the iconic Lotus that went underwater was originally surrounded by a pool of water to link to its other use but with how my mind works it all went a bit dark after ‘Oddjobs’ hat pierced the car (that used to freak me out as a kid). Can you smell Petrol?
If you love the first ‘Petrolheads’ piece, then this 007 edition should get your engine revving as there is a sense of calm and mystery to the composition. What I love is there is a ‘Storyteller’ quality to the scene, a stunning building that clearly has so much going on within, yet we can’t see from looking. Yet, open your mind and your imagination and you’re up the stairs and through the doors.
Ok, so for each of the previous ‘Retrospective’ collections there has been a music inspired piece as it has played a massive part in reinvigorating my memories of growing up through to present day. In 2019 I created ‘Mad For It’, a 90’s ‘Brit-pop’ celebration that focused upon the Manchester music scene. A slightly different type of music and weather to what you now see here in EIVISSA, but the two pieces are related, to me anyway! Basically, in my late teens I was really into house music, I absolutely loved it. So much so that I wasn’t bothered with the ‘Indie’ scene that most of my mates were. This resulted in me not going to watch the little gig that was ‘OASIS live at Knebworth, that was practically on my bloody doorstep. Damn it!
Typically, I soon started to move towards Indie, Brit-pop and an increasingly heavier taste and I seriously regret not going, I couldn’t even get any shared memories from my mates as they can’t remember anything from it! A side effect that the majority of those who were lucky enough to get over the ‘white isle’ in the hedonistic era of the 1980’s through to early 2000’s. Like I said, I loved and still love the House music from that period, but I never got to go over to Ibiza and ‘large it up’. I’ve never waved a glow stick or got off my nut on mind-blowing drugs. The closest I got was the nightclub in San Jaime – Menorca and waving one of the wooden statues about before getting bollocked and told to leave. Not hardcore but good fun.
As with a good number of my pieces, I like to take on subjects that typically get overlooked in the art sense yet have a massive following. I love creating scenes that put you right back there, that pulls at your heart strings and amplifies all the emotions that you felt at the time. With EIVISSA I have created a digital still life composition that is much ‘freer’ than the majority of my works, so it truly creates this sense of calm as you either watch the sun go down or come up from the beach. It is a beautiful image, pure tranquillity, with the sun shimmering over a sea that looks like a blanket of diamonds and the stunning Bougainvillea gently framing the vista. If you look closely, you will spot that the sun is actually made from a vinyl LP, whilst graphic equalizer patterns mimic hints of distant hills over the horizon as you look towards the other Balearic Islands.
There is a narrative and another purpose to EIVISSA, it depicts the changes that have happened out there from the early period when the clubs existed but were dotted about amongst little villages and dust tracks. A time when it was all about the music and the experience before the VIP culture took a hold that made everything so much harder and more expensive. Now, sadly it seems to be that the tables are reserved for those with the deepest pockets or biggest following. So, despite this being a positive piece, there is a nod to that. It isn’t something that I will pretend to be incensed by, but I felt it right to acknowledge, more so when the true spirits of Ibiza pass, such as Jose Padilla. ‘Heaven is a place of wonder’.
This sense of shifting sands is reinforced by the objects within the main composition. Dominated by a DJ mixing deck and with cracking objects that surround it, there is this feeling of things being uncovered and recovered that were previously hidden, just like how I hope this piece brings those memories back that were blurred and hazy. It is what ‘Retrospective’ stands and aims for, to look backwards to look forward. Look closely and you’ll spot an object that brings the time of this piece bang up to date rather than it being what many would initially think is set back in past decades. However, once you’ve spotted it, do you see it as current or set in the future when the restrictions are now a thing of the past and with that comes hope that the true spirit of EIVISSA has returned, floated in with the grace of a rainbow unicorn!
I have loved creating this piece, I really have. I hope that it has offered something that many didn’t think existed and that I have done justice to the memories that you lunatics can remember. Look closely at the mixing decks, it is totally transformed with cracking references with the odd one that needs a real clear head to decipher. I love the contrast between the wonderfully calm qualities but the drama and movement of the light trails that not only depict the intensity of the clubs but reinforce the sense that things are coming back to life. At the time of writing, it is Autumn and grey skies, but I hope that I have brought a brighter horizon to you and the time when you’ll be finally back on the sand is getting ever closer. I think we will all drink to that! Just beware of the dangers of Moist, Milky Donuts, Always!
So, it just remains for me to say, ‘av it large! (or standard if the size fits better)
Ok, so before I waffle on, I want to say a special thank you to the commissioning client of the very first ‘The Memory Remains’ that I created way, way back! I won’t mention his name, but he knows who he is and what a brilliant collaborative effort that was and look at the results! I remember being told that releasing the image as a print wouldn’t work, well no more words needed on that one, they say a picture speaks a thousand words.
I am a storyteller; I create visual chapters. Sometimes I conceive an ending, sometimes I leave it open to be continued. Occasionally, when immersed in a particular chapter, you can see an alternative direction which leads to a different ending. Yet, with ‘The Memory Remains’ there was always only one journey with it as a series, excluding ad-hoc special editions or pieces inspired by it.
The first piece crammed so much within a small window, literally. Stood looking across the road you could see the central toy shop with its’ enticing window display, whilst also getting a glimpse at part of a local cinema and an arcade that had recently closed down. I’m not sure if people spotted that and thought of it as a defining point to the piece. What it does it throw things completely as it changes the date from the era that it celebrates to being much more current. The sad reality of the closures of local independents is what is there but you look past that to what you remember when you were younger.
So, effectively you are doing exactly what my ‘Retrospective’ works epitomise, which is looking past the ‘real’ and towards the past and through the power of imagination and that child-like mindset, what you see is something that is so much bigger, brighter and better than it was. Hold onto that, as it is important when explaining each of the pieces within the series.
The first door that you were taken through in ‘The Memory Remains 2’ was the toy shop, and what a shop that turned out to be! How can so many toys be crammed into such a tiny shop frontage? See? So many of the toys from that scene feature within other pieces as I have continued to retell my youth through pictures (and so many of yours given by the reaction!) Everything links, it’s a walk-through of our memories, lovely, eh? ‘
The Memory Remains 3’ took you into an incredible cinema foyer to watch whatever film you choose to remember. Were those characters really there? Was your mind still in overdrive after the Pick N Mix, surely, they weren’t just the point of sale cardboard cut outs. There is such a wonderful link to my ‘Lost in Hollywood’ works with this piece and further reinforcement to the above where every memory is real and related.
So, there was one last door to go through, well before the shutters closed for the last time. The arcade! As the Gok would say, ‘it’s all about the confidence’ and truth be told, as a kid I had very little. So, I would always shy away from stepping up to the arcade machines, instead preferring to watch friends hammer them.
Confidence turns to comfort in another memory of growing up, this time during my time on a middle school French exchange trip when staying with a brilliant guy, who I still speak with today, Salut Cedric! I was incredibly home sick, I won’t lie. I pretended to have a cold to explain the streaming eyes! LOL buddy! Anyway, basically as well as playing table tennis, it was watching Cedric and his friend smashing it at ‘Sonic’ that has always stuck with me as it provided a real sense of comfort and common ground, even though I was shit at it and oblivious to any French insults being hurled about.
‘The Memory Remains 4’ is a true celebration of the wonders of retro gaming and the vibrancy of the arcades. Again, everything is shown to be bigger, brighter and a level up. What we see is a glimpse outside of the building and into Sonics’ world. I have wanted to replicate that iconic game play for so long and I love the end results. There have been so many interpretations of Sonic in the art scene, and each have their own merit, well this is mine and it’s authentic. Like Frank said, I did it my waaaaay.
So, whether you have bought part of this series, or this completes your full collection I want to say a massive thank you to each and every bloody one of you because it has been an absolute fucking blast! All great things come to an end, but the memories will always remain.