This week Brighton Journal spoke to Lewes-based artist, Mark Ellender. Mark frequently works with automatic writing and drawing, exploring humour, pathos, love, fear and morality. Much of his work navigates unconscious and undefined themes, creating a “multitude of different meanings for viewers.” We discussed Mark’s current painting and collage projects, as well as how a trip to Easter Island continues to influence his creations. Keep reading to find out more about his vibrant work.
What are you doing today?
Listening to Rufus Wainwright’s ‘Going to a Town’ on repeat. Just the right helping of melancholy for these times.
Describe where you do most of your creative work.
I’m currently studio-less, so cafes, on the move. I always seem to be creatively resourceful on train journeys. This is where I generate ideas, and then I paint from my home.
What’s the most exciting thing you’ve worked on?
An island! Specifically, Easter Island. My amazing wife, family and friends magic-ed me there three years ago. It was everything I’d dreamed of and more. The experience still inspires me and shows up in my work now. A commission I loved recently was for a close friend and it was fun incorporating elements of his family’s life into the work, along with my own imaginings.
What made you decide to become an artist?
Is it sewn into your character? I’m not sure but I can’t remember not having that compulsion to create.
What are you currently working on?
Some small canvasses loosely connected to the idea of ‘The hat mark left by a Stetson’. I’m also sourcing material for another series of collages, a medium I absolutely love working in. And a second book of poems. Though I have been saying that for 17 years.
What are the key themes in your work?
Humour, pathos, love, fear, moral turpitude, Yeti feet. I also work with a lot with automatic writing and drawing, so there are unconscious themes playing themselves out that I don’t profess to understand.
What would you like people to notice about your work?
I have had some phenomenal interpretations of my paintings, past a point that I had conceived of. I like to leave them indeterminate and undefined, so they can always carry a multitude of different meanings for viewers. But chiefly, I hope people see the humour.
What attracts you to the medium you work in?
I love working in acrylics, love the immediacy of it. You can work directly onto an area within minutes, for those troublesome compositional blunders.
What equipment could you not do without?
Silvine red memo pad and Uniball Eye 07mm pen.
Who or what inspires you?
Mark Ryden, Shag, Alex Goss, the Surrealists, the Beat Poets (particularly Richard Brautigan), Richard Scarry, Jim Flora, Aztec culture, Tiki, meditation, the Artist’s Way morning pages.
How is your work affected by living in this area?
I feel like we live in a creative hotspot, full of artists, writers, performers and photographers. It fosters a possibilities-rich, expansive mentality.
What’s your favourite thing to do locally?
Scouring the local charity shops and rummaging in car boot sales.
What’s your favourite gallery (or place to see/experience art)?
I haven’t been to many galleries of late but thinking back (he says through a sea of pipe smoke) I love the British Museum and the National Gallery.
If you could collaborate with one artist, from any time, who would it be and why?
Heinz Edelman. I would just love to have been involved in the animation and making of the Yellow Submarine film. One of my favourites. It would have been a joy to watch it all unfolding.
What’s your favourite colour?
Sap Green. Always works its way in somehow – it’s got a mind of its own.