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Saturday, 27 April 2013

Drawing the Line / Days and Rites

commission4mission member Mark Lewis has recently completed the Drawing the Line exhibition at the School of Jewellery in Birmingham. The exhibition represented the current output of an ongoing drawing and mark-making project in the form of a series of weekly visual diaries. These sketchbook journals are a response to the urban and rural landscape observed on Mark’s train journey which is undertaken every week from London Marylebone to Birmingham Snow Hill (and vice versa) on the Chiltern Mainline. This attempt to build up a different form of visual intimacy with a continually changing landscape viewed in all directions began over two years ago. The project has challenged the relationship between visual perception and mark-making and encouraged new ways of seeing which are essential when working spontaneously under self-imposed pressure.

The exhibition presented all of the visual diaries in both original and digitised forms. Each sketchbook journal is an unedited response to a section of the urban and rural landscape observed on Mark's journey and attempts to capture a sense of place through immediate felt response, memory and cumulative knowledge. Every journey has prompted a different way of engaging with the surrounding landscape. Some sequences are overlaid with responses from subsequent journeys; others are worked up later from recalled fragments, while more recent series are semi-abstractions generated almost totally from memory. Earlier figurative studies have gradually given way to the use of visual metaphors capturing landscape gestures, hidden structures, energies and patterns.

The sketchbooks embody a series of changing seasonal narratives that attempt to establish a sense of place through immediate felt response, memory and cumulative knowledge. While the earlier books were consistently figurative in character others have given way to the use of visual metaphors capturing landscape gestures, hidden structures, energies and patterns. Mark’s working methods are expressed through an extensive range of graphical media and drawing strategies including the recent use of an iPad.

These unedited visual narratives are representations or ‘visual cues’, which have the potential to tease out the truth of a landscape and may take on a greater reality than the actual perceived surroundings. The later minimalist approaches become a ‘distillation of realness’ suggesting that ‘less’ really is ‘more’. 

Mark is an industrial designer specialising in product design, jewellery and silversmithing. He has taught drawing and design in adult, further and higher education for 30 years. Formerly a principal lecturer in the Sir John Cass Department of Art Media and Design at London Metropolitan university, he is currently lecturing part-time at BIAD, Birmingham and the Goldsmiths Centre in London. Drawing has always been central to his creative practice and he is currently pursuing personal projects which focus on gestural drawing and mark-making.

Mark has also recently become an author as his book entitled Days and Rites: Popular customs of the Church has been published by the Heart of Albion Press:

"People go to church to worship and, as is often quipped, to be 'hatched, matched and dispatched'. Yet these quintessential rites have been adapted in all sorts of ways by parishioners and clergy up and down the country, while a great number of 'blessings' and other services that are quite specific to individual churches are performed annually. Collectively, they create a rich variety of traditions, many of which are only known about locally.

Some of these liturgical traditions have survived unbroken over many centuries, others have been revived after a break during the twentieth century – while yet more continue to be invented. Some of these more recent traditions – such as Harvest Festivals and Christingle – are now so ubiquitous that many churchgoers are unaware of a time when they were not part of the yearly cycle of customs.

By drawing together, for the first time, detailed information about these popular customs of the church, Mark Lewis hopes to stimulate further interest, research and recording of these remarkable events."

Holy Water Stoup designed by Mark and commissioned from commission4mission for St Margaret’s Great Ilford has been awarded a ‘Commended’ certificate in the annual Design Awards of the Diocesan Advisory Committee for the Diocese of Chelmsford.  The judges commented on 'the simple and elegant design' of the Holy Water Stoup which they said 'has been well crafted.' Mark has explained that the design of the Holy Water Stoup, which is made from oiled oak and polished brass, 'is inspired by a rising and opening hand in a gesture that suggests invitation or something offered and given in love, reflecting the mission of the Church.'


Paul Mealor - A Spotless Rose.

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