Mark's Georgian home in York is a treasure trove of delights. From folk art, to historic ceramic slipware, toy theatres and wonderful fabrics, his ability to find unique inspiration in art and everyday life is quite remarkable. We grabbed a few minutes with Mark to find out what makes him tick...
DID YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WORK OF ART WHEN YOU WERE GROWING UP?
A teacher brought a print of Bruegel’s ‘Hunters in the Snow’ (1565) into the classroom and hung it on the board, on a day when snow fell like goose down outside. We had to write a story from a character in the painting’s perspective. I wrote as a hound trudging home in deep snow. The visual poetry in this painting is as vital for me now as it was on that winter’s day aged eleven.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO MAKE ART AND OBJECTS FOR CHILDREN?
In a way I don’t think too much about designing the art/object for children. A little bit perhaps, but it is more important to free the child in yourself, in the making itself. Creativity is in essence a childlike impulse, I think it was Robert Louis Stevenson who said ‘creativity is all about play, but play with the seriousness of playing children’. This speaks to me; playfulness appeals to children and adults alike.
WHAT WERE YOUR SOURCES OF INSPIRATION FOR THE PRODUCTS YOU HAVE DESIGNED FOR SESSIONS & CO.
The abundance of nature and the directness of lino cutting!
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN FACED WITH A BLANK PAGE?!
Move the hands! Make a mark!
DO YOU HAVE A PARTICULAR THING YOU LISTEN TO WHEN YOU'RE DESIGNING?
Nothing particular…it could be Mozart, Christine and the Queens, Olivia Chaney, or many other things – but music energises and feeds creative expressiveness. There’s nothing better than starting a project to a good tune.
WHAT ARE YOUR GO-TO TOOLS OF THE TRADE?
Sharp scissors and PVA glue, Swiss-made lino cutting tools, and a dip pen and ink are essential!
WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK?
As an adult I would say John Burningham’s ‘Seasons' from the Sixties. His adventurousness with media is a delight and an inspiration. As a child I loved the Richard Scarry compendium and made my dad read me the Chipmunk’s Tea Party over and over again!
WHAT'S YOUR MOST TREASURED OBJECT (INSPIRATION)?
It’s impossible to choose just one. Objects inspire and my house is full… a miscellany of delights. In the words of the song, ‘These are Few of my Favourite Things.’.... a Pollocks toy theatre, a house in a box, a wood mouse embroidered by Emily Sutton not to mention a small flock of her birds as well, a life size plaster goose, a nautical diorama, cast iron lion and unicorns, a die-cut card of a leaping hare and a red metal cockerel brought back from Pasadena ..... I could go on!