Mark Edwards

Two Brothers by Mark Edwards
The Writer by Mark Edwards
Under The Bridge by Mark Edwards
The Conversation by Mark Edwards
The 2 O'Clock Train by Mark Edwards
Looking For The Right Place by Mark Edwards
The Man With The Balloon by Mark Edwards
Waiting For The Decision by Mark Edwards
Man Watching Crows by Mark Edwards
How, or indeed, why, does a hugely successful artist suddenly decide to turn his back on the very style of paintings which earned him the reputation that it did, and instead opt for something as far removed from the traditional compositional pieces in which he carved a niche for himself for a number of decades? Well, we could explain, but whom better than the contemporary figurative and landscape fine artist who we’re describing on this occasion – and the man behind the sometimes haunting ‘The White Wood’ series – Mark Edwards. In whose words we now observe. Explain its genesis as such he states; “My oil paintings were very traditional and although I was building up a reputation especially amongst the shooting fraternity, I was becoming increasingly disenchanted, artistically with its creative limitations”. Which is a fair comment, for sure. Before he goes on to add; “So one day in 2007, instead of placing a deer in the wood, I came across a 1950's photo in a magazine of a man reflected in a window on a busy New York street dressed in a bowler hat and coat, so I placed him in the wood. Instantly there was an immediate tension: what was he doing there?" Which in itself set in motion – and launched – the somewhat surreal and occasionally unsettling, ‘The White Wood’ series of late.

What Edwards had done was hit upon an admittedly strange series of paintings which essentially convey a seemingly personal interpretation that the artist finds himself still very much absorbed in. The very real presence of his exceedingly British take on surrealism - that form the backbone of this recent and perpetuated series - dictate that Edwards’ exhibitions sell out, whilst he garners admirers from every corner of the globe; calling regularly upon fans from Europe, Australia, Asia and North America. As to vocally dramatize the effect of a now typical Edwards piece, we look no further than his ‘Man With A Balloon’ study; which depicts an unfolding scene whereby an ordinary looking man (perhaps a civil servant judging by his attire and sense of purpose) stands with his back to the viewer. To his observational viewpoint he can see a billowing cloud ejected by an unseen steam train. To the side of him, also unseen, is another man holding a balloon. Why? What has brought this bizarre combination together? And why here, in this wintry forest far from anywhere?All questions that only Edwards himself can answer, if indeed they can be answered simply with verbs, nouns and adjectives at all.

But this is now, and what of then? The then as far as Edwards’ arrival on the art scene was concerned was 1967, and the Medway College of Art, which later became the Walthamstow College of Art in London. Or rather, this was the timeline of study that beset Edwards once he’d left secondary school and decided on trying to forge a future career as an artist. But patience wasn’t a virtue in Edwards’ book, and he prematurely terminated his degree course and took up the provision of drawing classes at a local adult learning centre in Medway, alongside of keeping up his own art education in his spare time, culminating in his earlier work being showcased on the premises of local galleries. Growing restless once more, 1974 witnessed the second such act of spontaneity in Edwards’ fledgling (yet still unrealised) artistic career, which manifest itself as the purchasing of an old Ford Prefect car with his girlfriend and driving it the length of Britain; pitching up on the shores of Loch Hope on the northern coastal fringe of the Scottish highlands. Which is an awful long way from London by anyone’s estimation.

But it all turned out rather well for Edwards, who put down his family’s roots here for the next 28 years, and for the most part living in that original old shepherd’s cottage that lacked power for 10 years, astonishingly, such was its remoteness out in the sticks. However this dramatic turning point countered any perceived claustrophobia Edwards’ had experienced in his life and times leading up to that arriving at this decision, and the subsequent freedom and space acted as the perfect conduit for the breadth of artistic work which followed. Over the decades Edwards regularly exhibited throughout Scotland, supplementing his income by working as a gillie during the deerstalking season on the Duke of Westminster’s estate which was situated nearby.

In terms of Edwards’ compositional style back then, during these artistically formative years living in the wilderness, it was traditional in every sense of the word and highly illustrative translation and representation. Influenced by his adaption to his season work – which of course supplemented his (then) meagre living as a jobbing artist to a certain extent – Edwards steadily built a reputation in art circles for his series of paintings depicting the lives and work of the men who fished and stalked in these isolated shooting estates.In 1984 his talents were recognised by a prestigious London-based art publishing agency called Artist Partners, who signed Edwards up. What’s more, the cottage finally gained electricity and a telephone line that year, so a more immediate means of communication was a lot easier for all parties.

During the intervening years Edwards illustrated literally hundreds of covers for authors who at the time and since enjoyed universal presence, many of whom were household names here in the UK and elsewhere. Famous authors like Kingsley Amis, Beryl Bainbridge, Sue Townsend, Philip Pullman, Michael Morpurgo (including War Horse) and CS Lewis (Narnia Chronology). Furthermore, Edwards’ brand of illustrative work leading up to and including that period was put under the microscope – along with his contemporaries at the time – and formed chapter and verse in 'The New guide to Illustration' (Phaidon Press 1990).

However, in 2000 – and once his three children had flown the nest – Edwards and his wife, Sally gave up the remote cottage that had served them so well over the years and moved into the nearby village, and from where Edwards set up another studio space. And it wasn’t too many more years after this that Edwards was set for the biggest change – at least in his artistic career – by saying goodbye to his successful deer stalking, fishing and assorted country and field sports compositions, and adopting his new creative direction; and the originating of his ‘The White Wood’ series.

View All Art Works By Mark Edwards