Kent Artist Profile: Mark Welland
Mark Welland produces work with heart. He produces work that has a clear hero. He produces work that is personal and beautiful and utterly hypnotic. This month, Lisamarie Lamb spoke to Mark to find out about his inspiration and what the future holds.
How would you describe your art? What is it that you do?
As an advocate of diversity I’m engaged by the potential of expression in different mediums, from pencil and paper to digital video. In my work I try to establish a ‘hero’. The hero is a theme, style, subject matter, idea or method that is the heart of a piece or collection. It should be central to, and bring a focus to the finished piece, invoking a personal connection.
Of all your collections, do you have a favourite?
That’s a little like asking if you have a favourite child. As it happens, I have two children so I treat my collections a little like them. Like my children, my collections are individual, with their own character and outlook. Through them my engagement with the world takes on different perspectives.
What is the most difficult piece you’ve ever undertaken?
It’s always the current piece. Thinking through a process is very important to me. I try to convey the idea in a form that I feel best suits. This means the piece takes as long as required to experiment with and develop the process.
What inspires you?
That’s simple. Anything and everything. I’m not a current affairs evangelist but so much of what we see and hear is transient. It is here today and gone tomorrow. It was partly this thought process that started my public participation pieces. I wanted to create a portrait of Damien Hirst who had been in the news for selling his work directly through Christie’s. Like some other major league artists he has a small factory of artistic helpers that produce work for him which is sold under his name. If I could create a portrait of Damien that was painted by other people but signed with my name, it may help us understand how and why some contemporary work is made and sold. I’ve developed that process so that each portrait we do allows us to engage with the subject, resurrecting it, albeit briefly, back into the limelight.
The photographic work I’ve produced on The Badsell Oak Tree, ‘Symmetrees’, is more about getting out and enjoying the landscape, whatever the weather. The tree stood in the centre of a farmed field opposite our house. It was the ideal subject matter to explore the dramatic differences in light and atmosphere in a simple, uncluttered setting. It would have been this way for hundreds of years, and yet few would have seen it, except perhaps those that either worked the land, or lived on the farm. I’ve been lucky enough to have had the chance to document the tree over the last three years and have been out in all kinds of weather, day and night. The tree fell when Storm Katie barrelled across the South East in April. That hasn’t stopped me working with it. I’ve already produced charcoal from some seasoned branches and I’m looking forward to creating more works from the parts left lying in the field.
What has been your proudest artistic achievement to date?
My mum gave me a Pentax K1000 camera when I was 16. I used it to capture images and create a silkscreen print for my A-level in Art. I think that piece had a major influence in getting me on the degree course at Birmingham Polytechnic.
Where can we see your work?
‘Damien Hirst’ and ‘Margaret Thatcher’ were recently shown at The Underdog Gallery in London and I currently have ‘Symmetree’ work at the SEEART Gallery, Tunbridge Wells. There are a host of shows across the South East this year. My website has the details.
What does the future hold?
I’m currently working on a portrait of Banksy. Famously camera shy, I’m questioning the nature of graffiti and its influence on how we consider our environment. If you wish to contribute, visit the Tunbridge Wells International Art Fair to help me paint him 24th-26th June. See you there!