I have said so many times just how instrumental and influential music is to my art, art that is a reflection and a response to my life and it’s experiences. The past year has seen me create pieces such as ‘Mad For It’, a 90’s inspired ‘brit-pop’ image and ‘Glasto!, a celebration of 50 years of headliners at the Glastonbury music festival. I love how the power of music can transport you back so easily to a period or a moment in your life and hold you there until you decide to turn ‘auto repeat’ off – something that expands over several days for me when I’m in that mindset to create a piece of art.
I’m one of those people who genuinely has a really diverse taste in music that includes bands that you are proud to know because you know the majority have never heard of, and yet are cursed with the ability to completely forget all of these when asked ‘so what music are you into’ and just blurt out the generics! For those who follow my social media posts you will know that the majority of my videos have often obscure tracks playing in the background. You know when you have a really good one when it is so left field (close to being a pun!) that the powers that be don’t delete your video and scald you!
Music is always on in the studio, currently it’s ‘Some Kind Of Peace’ by ‘Olafur Arnalds’ because I’m waffling through these narratives that need to go to print ahead of the collection release and I’m absolutely bloody knackered. Three more to go and a few cups of tea later and it will be on to spraying more original works so by that time it will have probably switched up to the likes of ‘Slipknot, ‘Chevelle’ and ‘Metallica’. Anyway! Let’s talk about this piece, ‘Ghetto Supastars’ and leave the darker stuff for another day, another piece.
Some great memories of my love for ‘hip hop’ and rap music as a teenager include asking my grandparents for ‘Cypress Hill’s’ ’Black Sunday’ for Christmas and hearing my mum trying to explain it to them over the phone. It was the thought of them going into ‘HMV’, or ‘Our Price’ (remember that?!) and asking for it that always drew a smile. Another was handing my Dad a tape to put on in the car on the way back home and watching his disgust build as I cringed in the back seat – the tape was ‘Death Certificate’ by ‘Ice Cube!
The 1990s’ and early 2000’s were brilliant for hip-hop and rap music, way too many to list here but the most iconic are all hidden within this piece, the perfect ‘lockdown’ boredom beater! ‘Ghetto Supastars’ is set on a gritty American basketball court in the inner city and literally littered with cracking details synonymous with the ‘baller’ lifestyle, some blatant, others more subtle and linked to song titles. Speaking of which can you work out what song the title is inspired by? I chose to add people into this piece and have done in a poignant way to pay homage to three true icons that have passed. ‘Tupac’, ‘Biggie Smalls’ and ‘Lisa (Left Eye) Lopez. The subtle dove and angel wing detailing adds something really special to this piece that has been created to just be bloody cool.
I hope you love seeking out all of the details within this piece, I loved creating it and it’s different which is a good thing for both artist and collector. I’ll be honest, I switched to ‘Black Sunday’ at the start of paragraph 5. Playing ‘Cypress Hill’ just got me thinking back to listening to the album on family holidays in Menorca, and how we would love to be back there right now eh. The power of music and the power of memories. So, bollocks to NAS, Hip Hop ain’t dead mate!
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.
Ok so if you follow my work you can probably tell that I love cars and given any opportunity will drop one or several into a scene! The intention for my ‘Retrospective’ ongoing body of work is one where I invite the audience to step inside the eye of my mind as I revisit memories from my formulative years and early adult-hood, the ones with minimal responsibility! As a kid growing up, I always loved each car that my parents got as I appreciated how bloody hard they worked but I was never one that was itching to be able to drive. I was happy to be passenger in my mates cars in my late teens – thinking of that I am amazed that I am still here! (you lot know who you are!)
So, when I finally decided that I wanted to drive at 20 I got myself a blue Vauxhall Nova SR – she was a thing of beauty even though I had no idea how to drive her. I still remember the price, £3750 and the worst price for insurance was £5000, third party fire and theft of course! I can still recall taking the keys and going to sit in it on the drive and listening to music – Speed Garage, House and Hip Hop at the time. I loved it yet I had no idea, embarrassing but I didn’t even know you had to put the clutch down to change gear. Luckily my dad told me before I set foot on my first lesson with him, another vivid and cherished memory.
I passed second time around after randomly being accused of road rage on my first test as the examiner thought I said ‘damn him’ not ‘damn it’ when I braked to let a car through who couldn’t be arsed to give me my right of way. Anyway, a cracking period of time followed cruising around in my Nova on the loop of Sandy, Potton and Biggleswade in Bedfordshire. I modified so much of the car, I was obsessed. Working mainly nights at the time I would always take the bloody wheels off just so I could clean the brake callipers on each wash, I’m sure I’m not alone. Two moments I remember are painting the rev and speedo needles blue and then setting off to realise that they dried stuck, so I had to ‘kangaroo jump’ all the way down the road to set them free! Another was having the car lowered and bigger wheels (Wolfrace Genesis 15’s) before heading out with my mates crammed into the back. Actually, god I hadn’t even passed my test then as my dad was passenger to take the car back. The end result was the tyres getting buggered from the car being so low that they rubbed and grinded. You could still hear it even over ‘Spin Spin Sugar!’ Great memories.
‘Born To Race’ is set in front of the iconic arches of Madeira Drive in Brighton – a ‘go to’ location for car meet ups and cruises. I have set it as the light is fading to help the neon’s to shine and the car lights and smoke from the burn outs come into their own. You have probably seen from earlier pieces such as ‘Petrolheads’ that I love to unite a group of cars into a scene and this is no different other than I wanted to inject some drama and movement into the piece, to challenge myself and hopefully make the image even better. The lairy ‘Scooby’ and the worshipped ‘Cossie’ spin in the foreground in a form of dance amongst the smoke, portraying that need to compete and race at any opportunity!
The back row features a cracking mix of cult cars from the classic hot hatches that are the Golf GTI and the Peugeot 205 GTI along with the brilliant Ford Fiesta XR2i and then the highly modified Vauxhall Corsa and Renault’s pocket rocket GT5 Turbo! There were so many others that I wanted to include but I wanted to ensure impact rather than making them too small. The potential for spin offs (excuse the pun) is massive so keep close! At the time of writing this there is a call to ban sales of all new petrol and diesel cars in ten years which whilst I understand why, it does make you wonder if scenes like this will just be a distant memory. In the meantime, I hope I’ve just ignited a few amongst all the boy and girl racers out there!
HOW YOU DOIN?! Ok, that’s out of the way so onto the narrative! As with a good number of the pieces that feature in ‘Retrospective 2’ ‘Friends’ was a subject that I have been asked if I would take on and I am so glad I finally have. It is always a matter of timing; a cracking piece can risk falling flat if it is released at the wrong time. This collection was planned in 2019, just as 2021 is being discussed now and despite 2020 becoming a year that is hopefully like no other it actually transpired to give this piece a whole new level of poignancy.
The scene is set within the charming ‘Central Perk’ and focuses on the iconic sofa that so many moments were filmed on. The coffee shop is full to bursting with detail yet totally empty of people, literally everyone looks to have upped and skedaddled. So, you could look at it as being down to Phoebe’s atrocious singing or Marcel maybe dropping his guts or maybe something a little different. Your piece, your call. The reason ‘I’ll Be There For You’ has taken on such a different quality is down to the fact that whilst I was creating it lockdown happened, again. Restrictions on friends and family meeting up indoors, coffee shops and other places where we loved to meet up were and still largely are all shut. So, this scene really does serve as a reminder just how wonderful it is to be free to meet with those who raise your spirits and how moments need to be cherished and embraced.
‘I’ll Be There For You’ is the first piece to feature in a new wider ‘panoramic’ format to help me squeeze in even more detail and the end result once you see it fully framed really is something special. It’s big, not ‘sofa big’ so hopefully there will be no need to… ‘PIVOT!’ There is a ridiculous amount of detail to spot! Iconic objects and moments are interpreted in my own random way, I have hidden really subtle details and my lips are well and truly sealed on those as I hope that once friends and family are able to meet that they’ll maybe spot something that you missed and so the conversation starts and memories build.
The funny thing is that ‘Friends’ used to be on non-stop years back in my house and I bloody hated it! Well, I think I did, but the reality was it was just during a period of huge stress and I couldn’t handle it. The canned laughter, the over the top one liners, I flipping despised Monica, there you go, I said it! Yet now, looking back I asked myself did I actually really hate it? Probably not. The reason I now know, is that ‘Friends’ is back on as a near permanent feature whilst feeding our faces and I really enjoy it. Monica still winds me up, but I love it. The reason for this was highlighted last night actually and personified so much of what I had hoped to be able to do.
A fundamental part of my decision to become an independent artist was to be able to spend much more time with my daughter, Olivia who was about to turn thirteen. All I did was work to survive and I barely had any time (or admittedly head space) for her. Bad eh but true.
Two years or so on and what a difference! Ok so I probably under-estimated the teenager desire to head to her room at any chance, but things are so different, my day is different, my mindset is different. Yes, the darkness is there and probably even darker, but I’m turned towards the light for sure. Last night was great, rather than heading straight back to her room Olivia stayed down and we watched a good couple of hours of episodes, and it was great, something that should be so normal but when normal was anything but normal this was just lovely. Maybe it was partially down to her seeing that I was enjoying the TV rather than feeling guilty of it being on that kept her sat for longer, but I guess it just shows how your mindset can have such an impact on people around you.
When ‘Breaking Bad’ was running on Netflix I was always a huge fan. I loved the lead characters, the plot, the darkness, the light, and the vehicles. Yet guess what, I never watched a single bloody episode! ‘WTF’ as you scratch your head in bewilderment. ‘You phoney, you fake! You bloody profiteering charlatan!’ Ok let me explain, bitch!
So, Vince Gilligan’s masterpiece ran from 2008 through until 2013 and my life was intense to put it politely. Trust me, I’m not asking you to grab your resin block and shine up your bow for me, there’s no sob story. The reality was I pretty much worked every hour possible and outside of that I was trying to put out fires, so TV took a back seat. It’s always been on my radar to take on and with how things have been over the past year or so I have really been able to relax and get stuck into some great TV.
I have been asked over the past few years if I intended to take it on and create a piece that showcased ‘Breaking Bad’ in my signature style. It was actually from creating ‘Petrolheads’ that gave me the inspiration of how I could bring this to life as that scene featured a number of vehicles gathered in a remote part of the desert and had a link to how Walter and Jesse would head out into the wilderness to ‘cook’! So that is where the concept started, and I am so pleased with how this piece has turned out.
In terms of the series and my ‘Petrolheads’ concept, there should be no clear link but if you look closely, you’ll see that the two scenes could be a mere turn of the head between them and I love that. Taking centre stage is the iconic ‘Bounder’ RV with its’ billowing blue crystal cloud rising upwards. What I love about the RV is it seemed to behave in line with the character’s luck at the time. It would choose not to start just at the time when it just bloody needed to and be a saviour on other occasions. Having owned a BMW M3 that I put over 160,000 miles on and been humiliated by the thing as well as saved, it just struck a chord.
The scene shows such a cracking range of vehicles and there is so much detail to seek out, some blatant whilst other references are harder to decipher. I was instantly hooked on this beast of a story, from when the theme music started it got me. It’s such a brilliant example of how a character can change through tragedy and turmoil, where that inner demon is woken. To do so much bad for so much good is so powerful, a classic example of how everyone has a dark side but not everyone can control it.
“I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really… I was alive.”