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Biography

Mark Bowman – Born 1966

 

As a project manager, much of my life has been spent working with architects and designers.  Through the study, interpretation and execution of other people’s designs and despite no formal training in sculpture, I feel I have developed an awareness which is serving me reasonably well in my own sculptural practice.

 

Having trained as an architectural technician when I was a young man, I went on to spend several years working with a master stone mason and a further year with an artist blacksmith. These early encounters fueled my interest in making and set me up for a lifetime of experiment, investigation and practice.

 

I also spent an eight year period working on oil rigs where I found the offshore working environment was pretty much devoid of art in the conventional sense. Being a sculptor on an oil rig often felt like I imagined a fish would feel on a motorbike, certainly not something to discuss in public! However, creativity and problem solving were always present in some form or other and I found interest in the most mundane design solutions and beauty in some of the most complex.

 

The spectacle of huge industrial structures and the violence of extreme conditions has probably left brutalist fingerprints on my creative consciousness somewhere but I feel I remain a fairly organic creature at heart.

 

I like the idea of combining organic growth in different forms, which to me, feel like a natural extension of one another. Vertebrae growing leaf or fungi forms for example or twisted ivy trunks growing human limbs.

 

I’m also fascinated by the effects of erosion and have completed pieces on the subject in both stone and plywood. A fellow sculptor (a medical research scientist in a previous life) commented that my erosion pieces reminded her of trabecular (bone structure), which is obviously an example of growth rather than subtraction. Her comment led me to investigate a whole new world of forms which have since crept into my thinking.

 

Carving, as a subtractive process, can be similar to a form of erosion. Just as ancient stone steps are shaped by thousands of footsteps, a stone carving has had thousands of hammer blows to a chisel or thousands of revolutions of a grinding tool. Every footstep, hammer blow or revolution has had an effect or contribution to the final piece, no matter how slight. The human life is probably no different.

 

Where a piece has material added, as in clay or plaster, it grows, like a tree or plant does as material is added. The shape of the final form is obviously a direct result of where that material is placed. However, the placement of the material can be affected by many things. Sometimes intelligent effort dictates a very specific position, other times, external environmental influences alter the intent and with it the result.

 

For some observers of a piece, the process is of no importance, either because they are unaware of the journey or because they are concerned only with the final form.

 

Whatever the process, a piece of art has obviously arrived at its current form as a result of the artists intent. However, either consciously or sub-consciously, I believe the original intent is constantly altered throughout the process.

 

The resulting “organised chaos” is a sublimely human journey. More often than not, it is the most personal of journeys, full of errors, corrections, humiliations, alterations and hopefully, joy. A private diary of a journey, opened up to the world for judgement. Quite daunting really if you stop and think about it in those terms.

Whilst I have been sculpting and making on a part time basis for most of my life, I have only recently taken the plunge and started to show my work.

 

My first group exhibition was with the Cotswold Sculpture Association at their Creating Spaces exhibition in 2022 where my work was voted “Peoples choice”. I was also awarded “Best Body of work” at the Great Northern Art Show 22 with judges comments "An incredibly powerful, innovative and though provoking body of work. Mark's varied organic forms are striking as individual pieces, but together demonstrate his extraordinary technical ability across a diverse range of contemporary and traditional materials".

My laminated ply piece “Shell #1” was awarded “Open exhibition prize” at the Royal Scottish Academy last year.

 

So far this year I have been extremely busy producing works for a range of shows  including, guest artist at The Sculpture Gallery at Leeds, Summer exhibition at the Cotswold Sculpture park, Moncreif Bray Summer exhibition, Cotswold Sculpture Association Creating Spaces 24 and Sculpture at Doddington Hall 24

 

 

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