Is this the best British sitcom ever made? If not, then feel free to suggest another! The characters and the scriptwriting are as Cushti as it gets. Following on from my 2020 piece ‘I’ll Be There For You’ that celebrated the enormity of the ‘Friends’ TV series, I wanted to create another in similar format but in a completely different era. Past pieces have referenced ‘Only Fools & Horses’ in a gentle way, through the iconic three-wheeler rolling into view but I have been itching to take this beast on for an age. It’s always a question on timing and having the ability to do it real justice.
As with other ‘Retrospective’ pieces, this wonderful example of comedy gold takes me right back to growing up and watching TV as a family, something that I feel is somewhat lost nowadays. It was always one of the ‘must see’ programmes when searching through the ‘Radio Times’ looking for the Christmas special. It wasn’t all Quality Streets and giggling though, god no! Something has just popped back into my mind whilst writing this that, if I’m right and I think I am, a certain brother disgraced himself by drinking too much of the beastly ‘Killepitsch’ liqueur that I brought back from a recent work trip to Dusseldorf (try it if you dare).
To my Mum’s horror we found him slumped in his bedroom chair covered in everything that he had eaten and drank on Christmas day with the announcement that he had ruined everything. On my hands and knees and channelling the big kid in me, I frantically scrubbed the red sludge off the carpet and trying hard not to exhale boldly announced that it was all fine and we could still make the Only Fools & Horses Christmas special. We made it, my brother crept back down on Boxing Day.
I guess this is what it is all about, my memories come flooding back from being immersed in my art. Bugger me I bloody love what I do! As with the ‘Friends’ series, the collective of different characters and catchphrases is just brilliant, all so different but such a close bond. Initially, this piece that you now see was going to be set within their flat within Mandela House but I wanted to go bigger, more pizazz, more je ne sais quoi as they say in the Dordogne. So, what we see is when the Trotters have cashed in their cheque and became ‘meewionaaires’ and are living the life in Miami where all that glitters is gold, and the jubbly is as lovely as it could ever be.
They say money doesn’t buy class, if so then who cares? The Trotters certainly don’t, they are all way too blotto on the Crème de menthe to care. Piecing together the ornate room is the same process as my original ‘Storyteller’ works but it all changes when you start to add the detail that you see filling the floor. I don’t shy away with things when seeking to make pieces authentic so the inclusion of Dels’ plastic pretties was a must but please picture the scene here, in the studio. Ok, so it was on a weekend that I began building the scene and I thought given that it is quiet here in general but even more so on a Saturday I would be safe to do whatever research I needed. You’ve probably seen the amount of glass in this studio, there’s not much to hide what you are doing, or looking at. So, whilst entering some search phrases into google that would get me to what I need without being pounced on, imagine what images popped up on my screen – just as I heard the young children whose family manage the estate run past the window! Not a scene Enid Blyton would have ever conceived! You plonker!
‘He Who Dares, Wins’ is littered with the detail that we all know and love from the series, it was just so much fun, and I don’t think that a piece like this exists, I hope you love it as much as I do. I won’t list out the references as I know how much you buggers love seeking them out but a detail that I love is the old couch. I spoke about how I wanted to do a piece that had the same qualities of the ‘Friends piece’ that centred around the sofa, and this is no different. This time however it takes pride of place because of what this series represents to me and to many, quality time with the family. The grubby yellow fabric is done this way to resemble the brilliant Robin Reliant and allows for lots of great details associated with it to be plonked there. You know it makes sense!
This piece could very well end up under the Christmas tree for some, just ask yourself this though, are you sure you took the giblets out?! Mange tout, mange tout!
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 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)
I’m sure I’m not alone with this one, but I bloody loved the A-Team as a kid! Classic Saturday TV memories with the family and I loved and lived every minute of every episode. I have previously created two A-team pieces; ‘Soldiers of Fortune’ was created back in 2016 and sold as an original piece whilst ‘A-Division’ was a commission. The van has featured within pieces such as ‘Petrolheads’ but I have been itching to create an image that can be available as a general release so here it is SUKKAS!
The two pieces previously captured the team’s love for creating intricate and bizarre weapons and vehicles from cabbages and egg boxes, whilst also referencing their previous roles in the US military and I love both pieces. For this image I wanted to do something different, so I planned to move the timeline forward to a period after the characters have moved on.
My favourite character was B.A Baracus, what a nutter! Apart from Pat Butcher, he was the only one capable of carrying off those whopping great big earrings! He was a unit, wasn’t he?! Probably from all that milk he drank, I guess if his hate for milk was like his fear of planes then all he would have been good enough was to play for the 'Owd Reds. Accrington Stanley, who are they? Exactly!
So, I tried to get inside Mr T’s head to see what he would probably do with all his free time and apart from becoming a boxer, (that wouldn’t work would it surely?) I thought he could continue with his love for all things gold and glittery and set up a gold mine out in the middle of nowhere where surely no one could find him, or could they?
A rickety, towering gold mine expands up from the desert that looks to be as sturdy as one of the old A-Team TV sets. Yet just look at the operation that is going on here under the name ‘FOOLS GOLD’ (you see what I did there?). Rail carts stand on their tracks full of gold, it looks like business has come to a grinding halt, is there a mole within the tumbleweed or just a jackal?
Although so much has been left for your interpretation, one thing is clear and that is B.A’s empire is under attack from above as wave after wave of attacks rain down from the sky. But hold on, the classic Corvette is being carried away by the military Chinook, is everyone on the same side here? Is he out on his own, did he cut his ties back then or has his comrades answered his call for one last battle? Blacked out windows leave everything open to your imagination.
A key component of the classic series was the constant over the top drama that played out, how many vehicles were flipped over and blown up by them lobbing sticks of dynamite at any opportunity? Yet did anyone ever not make it out of their flattened or burning jeep? I have paid homage to this by creating a cracking sense of drama and movement to contrast with the static objects laid out in front of you to decipher.
Bigger isn’t always better and that is shown with the role that the iconic A-Team van plays within the scene and its composition. It is such a bloody brilliant vehicle that looks great up close but I have done this within ‘Petrolheads’ and didn’t want to replicate this so, instead it is doing ‘doughnuts’ in the desert, but driven by who?
There have been a few calls to include a ‘big rig’ within a piece and I love what is happening here. I remember the time when they converted a rig to become a battering ram, it just looked immense. So, in true A-Team style I have got the virtual angle grinder and blow torch out and created my own. Look closely and you will spot whose truck this is! I love the end results, it has a ‘Mad Max’ quality to it, now there’s food for thought.
I avoided watching the big screen movie remake as I prefer to keep my memories unspoilt but always enjoy watching old episodes. With the exception of when Leeds used to come out onto the pitch to ‘Eye of the tiger’, I can’t think of many better intros than the theme tune to the A-Team. I only take on a subject if it resonates with me and if I feel that I can bring something different to the subject and most importantly do it justice and I can whole-heartedly say that I have thrown everything at it. It has brought so many special memories back to the surface.
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!