Artist Interview: Mark Burrell
Mark Burrell is an English artist whose work is focused around the found object. He earned a BA in Fine Art from Leeds Polytechnic and a Masters Degree in Fine Art from UEA at NIAD. Within his practice he combines collage, print and found objects, truly understanding the relationship with objects and each other. Mark has work in several private collections most notably The Tim Sayer Collection, London. He has also been featured in numerous Apero Fine Art Publications, Artist Talk Magazine and has had work featured in an edition of British Vogue.
We had the pleasure of asking a few questions, delving into his world of manipulating materials!
'I feel art, like a tapestry, allows us to perceive the world from multiple perspectives. It invites us to venture beyond the surface, encouraging introspection and reflection. '
'In my creative process, I am like a magpie, always being drawn to various materials. I have a tendency to collect them and set them aside, almost purposely forgetting about them.'
Q: Can you tell us about your artistic background?
After completing my first degree from Leeds Polytechnic in 1988, I co-founded Gatehouse Studios with my friend Cath Stocker. Within a year, I (along with another friend) also established Fine Art For Business, an exhibitions company. Our goal was to eventually set up the first commercial contemporary art gallery in Leeds. Unfortunately, our plans fell through during the recession of the early 90s when our financial backers withdrew.In 1992, I was accepted into the Masters programme at what is now the Norwich University of the Arts. I successfully graduated in 1993 with my degree. Following that, I worked in various positions to repay my student loan while pursuing my passion for art. In 2000, I obtained a PGCE teaching certificate and embarked on a seventeen-year teaching career in various educational institutions, including schools, further education, and independent art schools.However, in 2017, I made the decision to leave teaching and focus all my time and energy on my personal artistic practice. Since then, I have gained gallery representation and developed a dedicated following for my work.
Q: In your method of creation, do you know what materials you are going to use or are the materials the starting muse?
In my creative process, I am like a magpie, always being drawn to various materials. I have a tendency to collect them and set them aside, almost purposely forgetting about them. This allows me the joy of rediscovering them later on and seeing how they inspire new ideas. When I enter my studio, I never have a predetermined plan in mind. Instead, I spend a significant amount of time 'playing' with different materials, patiently waiting for inspiration to strike and guide me.
Q: Due to your variance in the use of materials within your practice, do you have a favourite to work with?
I have experimented with various materials and techniques throughout my career. When it comes to my favoured medium, it is difficult for me to choose just one. Each material carries its own unique qualities, presenting different challenges and opportunities. If pushed, I think that paper holds me most in thrall, there is something about its strong yet delicate nature that draws me in.
Q: You state that you hope your ‘art forms a tapestry that embraces the multifaceted nature of our existence’. Would you be able to elaborate on this?
I feel art, like a tapestry, allows us to perceive the world from multiple perspectives. It invites us to venture beyond the surface, encouraging introspection and reflection. It is a mirror that reveals the deepest aspects of our soul and provokes contemplation on the nature of existence itself. Through art, we are able to explore our own humanity, as well as the interconnectedness of all living beings.Moreover, just as a tapestry holds a story within its intricate patterns, art tells tales of love and loss, of triumph and tragedy. It communicates messages and ideas that transcend limitations of language and culture. It serves as a vessel for storytelling, a means to pass on knowledge, and an instrument for social and political commentary.
Q: Due to your practice being heavily physical based, would you consider using/combining digital based methods in any future pieces?
I have mainly incorporated prints and photography into my work in the past. However, I have not as yet explored the use of digital methods in the studio. That being said, as an artist, I believe in remaining open-minded and not ruling anything out if it is necessary to bring an idea to life.
Q: Could you tell us some facts about yourself that people may not know about you?
The first fact is that in between my degrees I spent a number of years as a manager in the wine trade. I gained a numerous qualifications and the knowledge and understanding of what to look out for and what tastes wonderful, still stands me in good stead to this day. I held the fastest time recorded for the 75 yard race in my primary school for fifteen years (I was a fast kid).
Q: Is art your main way of expressing yourself or do you have other avenues?
I have for a number of years written Haiku poems (not pure by traditional standards, but my own interpretation of seventeen syllable structure). They are solely for my own personal pleasure as I love the challenge of the structure and the search for the most accurate words to express my feelings.
Q: Thank you so much for your time and knowledge! We would love to know what you are currently working on/ do you have any exciting future plans in the making?
At the moment I am working on some larger scale paintings exploring time and place. That’s the idea but it is early days and I’m still hoarding the materials to consider. I am also in early stage talks with an Irish gallery to show my work with them fairly soon.