Mark Ward and his wife, Lynne, visited the Gallery in 2018 whilst on holiday in Tighnabruaich. At the time, I was unaware of their presence as I was deeply involved in discussing the exhibition of historic works from the Argyll Collection with a group of local Primary school children. Unbeknown to me, they observed and listened to what the children were saying, before perusing the rest of the space and making the purchase of a pair of candlestick by ceramic artist Julia Roxburgh. Lynne requested that we send their purchases to their home in Suffolk and it was only at the point of email correspondence that we struck up a conversation about Mark’s work as an artist and the obvious corresponding appeal of Julia’s colourful ceramics. Upon looking at Mark’s website and watching a fascinating interview I was instantly smitten with his work, never ever having seen anything like it before, and it was from this point, which I remember vividly, when my relationship with the wonderful world of Mark Ward began.
Living and working in rural Suffolk, Mark’s studio is alive with a host of characters which he creates using an array of materials, from clay, paper and string, to sponges, dusting cloths and pipe cleaners. These crowds of creatures sit, nestled on shelves, watching Mark work. Originally trained as Product Designer, Mark now classes himself as a painter. Yet his process is far from simple, a complex and involved system of creating characters, sculpting them with raw materials, bringing them to three-dimensional life, posing and arranging them into elaborate stage-sets before applying dramatic lighting.
Mark then commences a process of transforming these scenes into two-dimensional form, making preparatory sketches with the aid of crosshairs to ensure accuracy in scale, before performing his magic to create magnificently colourful, perfectly harmonious and balanced, amusing and entertaining, entirely unique paintings.
The Gallery was due to host a solo exhibition of Mark’s fabulous work in Easter 2020, which, of course was then postponed to Eater 2021. Alas, this was not to be. Thankfully there will be a new show in 2022 and I am thrilled at the prospect of transforming the white space into a corner of Mark’s world, filling it with colour and life, offering a home to his glorious menagerie of sculpted creatures, and, of course, showcasing his marvellous paintings.
In the meantime, as a much needed, joyous gift to us all, Mark has created nine new pieces which I have curated into this online, virtual exhibition. Follow the links below to read more about Mark’s processes and to view each painting.
Nine minute video of Mark being interviewed in his studio
To find out more about the nine paintings exhibited in 'Still aLife' follow the links below.