Mark Edmonds – The Artist Interview
Mark Edmonds artwork is captivating, beautiful and unique. Upon seeing his work I was struck by the distinctive artistry of each piece, that he displays. Mainly abstract in style, his paintings have layers of texture, colour and shape. Bold, complex and magnetizing are words that come to mind. His variety of tools consist of paint, photographic elements, found objects and textual materials. He takes a meditative approach when working, actually using meditation technique and also employing ‘automatic drawing’, where the artist unleashes the unconscious to have free reign of the painting process, whilst containing the conscious mind. Mark incorporates themes into his work varying on the spiritual, psychological, philosophical, and also ethical. Such themes can be seen in his description of his 2015 work, ‘Indoctrination’ and ‘Self Reflection’, 2013.
Mark has done various exhibitions around the UK.
Check out Mark’s art http://www.markedmondsart.com
He is on Twitter
and on Facebook
When did you realise that you wanted to be an artist?
I’m not sure I’ve ever wanted to be an artist, it’s not what I consider a job in that sense. I’ve always been painting, drawing or taking pictures throughout my life. I had other various forms of income over the years it’s just recently that my primary source of income shifted and that’s when I became a professional artist. It was more of a natural progression than I woke up one morning and said “yep going to be an artist”
What inspired you to take that career path?
I went to University to do Art Photography, while I was there I tried out just about every workshop the Uni had to offer. I attended a painting tutorial with a painter named Stephen Boyd and he really opened my mind as to what I could do with paint. After that the Photography got a bit sidelined and towards the end of that year, I produced some work which made me think that I should explore this avenue more.
In your ‘Artist Statement’ you mention that you use meditation techniques in your painting process, can you describe how that works?
I’m not always consciously aware of decisions I make regarding the use of colour or composition exactly. I used to meditate quite a lot and that coupled with a lifetime of daydreaming has a profound influence on the way I work. I suppose it’s a bit like deliberately shutting down the rational side of the brain in favour of intuition and emotion. I often paint with my feelings rather than making analytical choices, those come later on when I decide the time is right to abandon a piece or continue working with it.
You have some very interesting ideas and themes, such western societies conditioning of how we see war, and the constant, careless, dispose of everything culture, that we currently have. How and where do you find ideas for the theme of each project?
I question everything, all the time and I have, as far back as I can remember.
I look around and I talk to people. We’re in a fantastic time at the moment where you can freely communicate with people all over the place. We’re not limited by borders as much as we used to be, so I elaborate on this and try to point out the things that seem obvious to me but are generally overlooked. I don’t speculate on why logical conclusions are ignored in favour of the communal ‘story’ that most people appear to go along with, but I have seen examples of where people have made decent changes for the better. I’m quietly optimistic that there are others out here who share some of my views and are making positive changes in the world.
Who have been your influences for your artwork and in your life?
My old art teacher Tony Butters. I was totally lost at school, my programming didn’t fit the system, I think that’s because institutions aren’t designed for people who question everything. All of a sudden there was this fantastic, eccentric chap who used to breath fire and had invented his own gibberish language. He brought some of his work in to show me once, it was Dali level surrealism, I still remember those lessons quite fondly. I don’t think he knew just what a positive influence he was to a lot of young people at odds with the system. There are also a lot of great artists who directly influenced me. Giger was the accessible artist who made me want to delve further, I bet he was the first point of contact for a lot of young people who then went on to be artists because of the alien films. He bridged the gap between popular culture and art at that time, I know a lot of people might snub him to appear more culturally adept, but we all need a way in; it’s a bit like saying that you don’t like the Rolling Stones after they turned you on to Blues. Aubrey Beardsley, because a Victorian, illustrative artist using weird occult references and lurid sexual imagery in his work is just crazy brilliance during an awkward point in history. Goya for the same reason but I encountered him much later on. The thing I like most about him is that he was real, he had something to say based on his experiences. Jake and Dinos, because they too have something to say based on Goya’s experiences, I don’t mean that in a negative way, some things will always be as relevant in the past as they are now and it’s useful if there is someone about to tell the story in a fitting way. Klimt, why not? He broke all the rules.
I recently moved the studio to the Spode Works in Stoke on Trent. For people who don’t know, it used to be the main site for the manufacture of ‘Spode’ pottery. The building has been redeveloped, in part to provide studios for artists and other creatives. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention them, they have been collectively one of the most positive influences on my practice to date. It’s just fantastic being surrounded by other creatives with different skills and ideas, they’ve been incredibly motivational for me these past few months.
What is your favourite artwork of your own and why?
It changes, I quite like two from 2011 called ‘Forrest’ and ‘City’. They were very successful. I created them quite early on and I had no idea what I was doing, so I took a lot of risks. It’s almost impossible to do that exact type of painting now because I’ve refined my techniques, plus they were of a particular time. I’m not that person anymore, I could spend months trying to retrace my footsteps or I could enjoy what is relevant to me, now. I’m very much into my current series of paintings based around the Goddess archetype, I’ve fused photography with painting before but never with so much success. This is probably down to my learning from previous experiences, for example, which types of resin work with which pigments etc. So ‘Ishtar’ which I painted last year represents a whole new chapter in my studio practice, it feels like a lot of different techniques and influences have come together from other areas to create this new style…at last, the experiments yield results.
What challenges do you experience in having absolute freedom, with having such a huge array of tools at your disposal in creating your artwork? And if there are not any challenges what is having that freedom like as opposed to sticking with one art Medium?
I watched a documentary about Sid Barrett once, after Pink Floyd, he became a painter among other things. In the documentary, one of his friends said that Sid used to stay in bed as much as possible in order not to limit his potential. Once you commit to a course of action you are restricting your potential in other areas perhaps. We only have a limited span on this earth and artists feel like they have to achieve so much; It can be overwhelming. The main drawback to what I do is that it’s quite difficult to face the unknown head on and create your own path. The main advantage is, however, is that you have a lot of options at your disposal in order to do so.
What goals do you have for the future?
World domination and unlimited power.
I tried to write down my goals last year as a positive motivational tool. It was outlined as on of the ‘5 habits of highly effective people’ in the book of the same name. After about a day of procrastination and deliberation, I managed to come up with one phrase: “Make a significant contribution to art”. That phrase is still on my office wall at home. I think I realised that as long as I’m painting I’m doing great and all other goals stem from that base. As my work evolves and changes so too will the goals that I base around it, but the continuation of painting and discovery through that medium will always remain as the primary goal.