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Street Art meets design-Mark McClure

Street Art meets design-Mark McClure

Mark’s work has significantly developed since my last visit to his Dalston studio 18 months ago. Though he is exploring different materials in his work, his roots are in street art.

uphoarding blue sky (1)
Uphoarding / Olympic Park -Portion of Uphoarding – 200m wooden mural at the Olympic Park, Stratford. (All rights reserved- Mark McClure)

These pieces show off his ability to its full potential.  The clean lines, combined with the dynamic, optimistic designs when seen on a monumental scale just make you feel better.  Made out of reclaimed wood- the works are beautiful constructions- combining design, street art and functionality. He has a unique approach.

Uphoarding 1 and 2
Schism-Painted wood- 61cm x 6cm x 6cm(All rights reserved- Mark McClure)/ Composition#1- Painted wood- 50cm x 50cm x 6cm(All rights reserved- Mark McClure)

He has his first solo exhibition in 2016. He has previously exhibited in Moscow, Taiwan and Berlin, in addition to a number of group shows and art fairs in London such as shows at East Gallery and Jealous Gallery and the Moniker Art Fair as a Moniker Projects artist.

Uphoarding OP 3
The Way the other Half Live- 82cm x 74cm x 16cm- Reclaimed wood, wire & paint (All rights reserved- Mark McClure)

I met him recently, while he was working on some new assemblage works for a group show in August at Curious Duke Gallery in East London and also experimenting with some new materials in the studio.

-What other future projects do you have in the pipeline?

I’m going to Amsterdam in July for a group show at Go Gallery and some collaborative outdoor pieces, which I’m pretty excited about. I’m also planning a joint exhibition in North East London with artist Yann Brien.

Triple XXX – Triptych – each 36cm x 36cm x 7cm – Found wood & spraypaint (All rights reserved- Mark McClure)

Other plans include some interesting crossovers straddling both art and functionality – exploring lighting and interactive works which I hope to exhibit at two London fairs in September and October. I’m also on the lookout for more walls for mural works – so if anyone has an empty wall for a wooden mural – they are welcome to get in touch.

-You use a lot of wood and found materials in your work- how did this evolve? How do you see your practice developing?

I was making heavy collage works with flat planes of colour representing architectural shapes and structural forms, so it was a natural step to start using planes of wood instead. I initially just used found wood because it’s free & everywhere but it also adds another narrative layer beyond the purely visual.

Uphoarding / Olympic Park- Portion of Uphoarding – 200m wooden mural at the Olympic Park, Stratford. (All rights reserved- Mark McClure)

I plan to develop my work to encompass both art and environment –  with more interaction, immersion and play. I’m remaining open minded as to where that takes me and the extent to which it is applied – I’m intrigued by that ambiguity, the grey area between art and function.

-Is there an intersection with art/ design in your work?

My work has always drawn on both art and design influences – that’s partly down to my design background but also through exploring themes of urban environments and structures around us – all of which has been designed in some way or another.

Uphoarding / Olympic Park – Detail shot of Uphoarding – 200m wooden mural at the Olympic Park, Stratford. (All rights reserved- Mark McClure)

-You were selected as the artist to work on the Olympic stadium perimeter hoardings- how did that project come about? How did you reach the decisions about the choice of art and design?

I was commissioned through Moniker Projects – who were asked by LLDC (the organisation responsible for the Olympic legacy) to put forward artists they worked with. LLDC wanted artworks to cover hoardings around areas of the Olympic Park which are being redeveloped over the coming years.

The choice of artwork came out of my work with wood and the idea to recycle materials from the parts of the Olympic Park which were being redeveloped. It was too good a story and wood supply to pass up on! We sourced the wood for about half of the 200 metre long mural from the Olympic sites and local businesses. Wood from the stadium, Olympic venues, building sites – it all went into the mix. Visually I wanted to represent both the dynamism and urban nature of the Olympic venues and what they represented – so the artworks themselves combine a strong sense of movement with more structural compositions.

-What challenges do you face in your work?

My biggest issue at the moment is space – or lack of it. Doing larger pieces tends to take up my whole studio – especially walls, murals or floors, which means I can’t work on many things simultaneously. A bigger space would dramatically change the way I work so I’m looking to upsize soon – although affordable space is increasingly hard to get hold of in London.

The other challenges come in the actual production of the objects. Introducing new materials or lighting means I’m constantly learning new techniques, and that won’t ever stop. While it’s challenging, it’s also great fun.

The way the other half live
Uphoarding / Olympic Park – Detail shot of Uphoarding – 200m wooden mural at the Olympic Park, Stratford. (All rights reserved- Mark McClure)

-Is there a change in how artists sell their work? Has there been a move away from traditional gallery representation?

Up to a point, yes, there’s definitely a more DIY attitude. Artists are more savvy with social media, online activity and self-promotion. I’m not sure that it necessarily leads to sales but it gets artists noticed by people who can then do the selling. There’s also been a huge surge in the number of art fairs for artists to exhibit in independently. All this makes it much easier for the best work to be discovered – it’s much more democratic.

Having said that, I don’t think traditional structures will change very much. The people involved might not be from formal arts backgrounds or might not fill the traditional stereotypes – but the structure of the dealers, curators and tastemakers driving the market is still prevalent.

Street art5
All rights reserved Amanda Gray

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