Aug 27, 2012

Mark Sowden - The Mutable Object

Mark Sowden opens up his own studio in his garden for a very thought provoking amalgamation of photography and sculpture. 

1. Please tell us about the work you will be showing in the 2012 Art Trail.
I use a variety of sculptural and photographic processes to make my work. This year I have concentrated on producing photographic images. I am trying out a number of different ways to give these images a physical form and will be showing postcards, framed prints and photographs integrated into three-dimensional collages.

2. Is this the first time in the Trail or are you an E17 Art Trail Veteran?
I am a veteran.  I first open my studio in 2007 and have taken part every year since then.
3. What are the challenges of getting everything ready for your Art Trail event?
The challenge is always to turn a working space into a showing space. Without any change of emphasis my studio would look chaotic and confusing. The studio is a place of flux and change where objects are made, altered, arranged, photographed, rearranged. If work is finished it needs to leave the studio and make room for new work to evolve. Consequently the things normally found in my studio are unfinished and unresolved.
Most people coming to an open studio want to see finished work so each year I have a big clear out and a tidy up and try and hang a show. However my studio is too full of stuff to ever be a neutral gallery space. A viewer will see tools and materials in the space alongside work that is in progress and work that is finished. Practical considerations are important. The studio needs to be safe and accessible to visitors. I will be showing at the same time as my wife Sharon Drew who has the other half of the studio. Together we try and create a welcoming but relaxed atmosphere in which visitors can look at the work and then say as much or as little as they want.
4. Do you remember the first artist that really influenced you? Does that artist still have an impact on your work?
My father makes sculptures, drawings, photographs and furniture. I also make sculpture, drawings, photographs and furniture. The influence is undeniable and ongoing. In more recent times I have been influenced by the work of Fischli and Weiss, Tony Cragg and the photographers Lee Friedlander and Lucas Blalock.
5. The E17 Art Trail has become bigger every year. Do you think it is because more artist’s are calling it home?
Undoubtedly this is true with a noticeable increase in the artistic community in the last few years. However the veterans of the Art Trail have stayed loyal and continue to show. This is partly because Cris, Laura and Morag do such a good job encouraging, supporting and organizing the participants making it easy to take part. The Art Trail has become THE major focal point in the year for local artists. Without it we might not even know an artistic community existed in E17. Each year we visit studios as well as opening our own and consequently our feeling of being part of this community grows and grows. This is the magic of the Art Trail and I hope people new to the area or showing for the first time will feel the same way.
6. What has E17 bestowed on you?
I have lived in Walthamstow for 20 years, the longest I have ever stayed in one locality. Walthamstow’s charms were slow to reveal themselves at first although I have always liked the way it has clear boundaries with the river Lee to the west and Epping Forest to the east. I like its sense of being on the cusp of inner-city London and suburbia with easy access by bike to the Essex countryside. However it is only recently that I have felt connected to a community of people in E17. The Art Trail has been hugely important in this respect. So maybe I can finally say that Walthamstow has bestowed a sense of belonging. I have become a citizen of London E17.

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