Yorkshire Post - YP Magazine
Creature of risky habits
Creativity is a messy business, certainly the way Mark Hearld does it. “It’s a sort of brashness, up to your waist in shards of cut paper and spilt paint in order to create. It’s not a polite business, creativity,” says the York-based artist and designer. “It’s a get-stuck-in kind of activity, taking risks and being bold and tackling new things, really allowing materials to lead.” His exhibition, Raucous Invention: The Joy of Making, opens today at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, celebrating the joyous, audacious energy that goes into his work with displays of his collections on the Upper Space and at the YSP Centre. All the pieces are for sale, and many are the result of striking collaborations with other like-minded makers.
Mark works from a studio in York city centre, sharing it with a range of artists including a jeweller, writer, potter and filmmaker, each with their own desks and an open-plan space.
His work can safely be described as eclectic. “The main thing that I do is make collages,” he says. “That is almost like the umbrella activity that defines me, but as well as that, I am an artist that works as a designer, and that is important to me.”
Inspired by the natural world, in particular, British fauna and flora, Mark works across a range of mediums, including painting and print-making, to create works of collage and tapestry, sculpture, hand-painted ceramics and prints for fabrics,
Ahead of his show at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, York artist and designer Mark Hearld talks to Stephanie Smith about his nature-inspired work. Pictures by James Hardisty.
wallpapers and fashion, including a shirt print for Boden. Recent commissions include original artworks for Sarah Burton, creative director of Alexander McQueen, and fabric designs for the Caramel luxury fashion brand. He has worked and exhibited all over the UK, including working on the set design for the 2005 film Nanny McPhee and making a range of ceramics for Tate.
His Yorkshire Sculpture Park show also features ceramics, a collection of platters made by Leach Pottery in St Ives, collaborating with its lead potter, Roelof Uys.
Mark says: “I went down there twice to work on both the stage with the slip, with liquid clay and stencils, and then, once it had been fired to biscuit firing, I went back and worked on the pieces with oxides and stains and then glazes.”
He has also created a large-scale mural, made up of 12 large individual collages, each a solo piece, but also working together as a huge statement piece that fills the walls of the YSP Kitchen at the visitor centre.
There are also three large tapestries, made first as three big collages, which were then photographed and turned into digital tapestries, using a computerised loom in the Netherlands. “The technology of the first computers was indebted to jacquard looms, so working on a digital tapestry is a good application of something digital,” he says. “Sometimes a digital print looks rather thin in comparison to a screen print, but the joy of tapestry is the threads are physical, whatever happens, and the process of weaving is like a pixelated process anyway, so it works very well.”
Mark was born in 1974 in York, where he grew up with his parents, Bill and Jenny Hearld, who still live in Heslington (Bill is an accountant and takes care of Mark’s books), and his sister Claire, who is a teacher. “They were incredibly supportive. They believed in me and they took it seriously,” he says.
He went to Fulford School, where he won a competition to design a label for a jam
company. “Even at that age, I was interested in creativity across media and genre, and I was as interested in design as fine art,” he says.
“I have always drawn and made things, and I have always been interested in nature, and those two interests endure.”
He went to the Glasgow School of Art. “I studied illustration under a man called Mick Manning, who also was a great drawer of animals, so that was really lucky, and then I went on to study natural history illustration at the Royal College because I liked drawing animals. I drew them not in a scientific way, just in an expressive way,” he says.
Inspired by mid-20th century British artists who also worked as designers, such as Eric Ravilious, John Piper and Edward Bawden, Mark began making collages for exhibitions, and then started designing for Norfolk-based artist-created wallpaper and fabric company St Jude’s. In 2012, he won an Elle Decoration Design Award for his stillpopular wallpaper Harvest Hare.
The YSP show features a St Jude’s fabric print called Tyger Tyger, created during lockdown and inspired by a picture of an 18th century British needlework, spotted by Mark in a magazine. “I was interested in the English idea of the exotic in the Georgian period,” he says, adding that the owner of the piece said they liked to think it might have been made by Mrs William Blake.
Mark has also made what he describes as twoand-a-half dimensional sculptures, of animals and birds, made from cut grey board, all again underpinned by his love and fascination for the natural world.
“It comes from childhood walks with my family at Sand Hutton woods,” he says. “We have always had dogs. On a daily basis, the thing that tops me up with nature inspiration is dog walking.”
This is now with Brio, the lurcher cross poodle puppy he got last year. “She has been my lockdown muse. She features in a lot of works in the exhibition,” he says.
As he walks, he takes pictures with his smartphone and uploads them to Instagram, which he uses as a digital scrapbook, documenting what he notices.
Raucous Invention is also the name of Mark’s new book, soon to be published by St Jude’s, and he has been working on a cover for a book coming out about 18th century English parson-naturalist Gilbert White, too. And he has a show at York Open Studios next spring.
He would like to design an opera set or costumes, something theatrical and spacial. The
Nanny McPhee set work he did was “off-piste but fun”, he says, adding: “I am interested in the domestic space as an outlet for creativity, almost as three-dimensional collage.
“I am interested in this phenomenon called popular art, things that are not pictures for galleries, but are still designed with love and care and attention to their visual merit.
“Why live with anything that isn’t beautiful when you could choose something or make something that is?”
■ Mark Hearld – Raucous Invention: The Joy of Making is at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, where all pieces will be on display and for sale at YSP Centre and Upper Space, from today until February 6, 2022. Open daily, 10am-5pm, see ysp.org.uk