Mark’s Story

I’ve had a long relationship with Hereford College of Arts. Beginning in the autumn of 2013 when I enrolled on the BA (Hons) Photography course, I went on to spend three happy and productive years exploring and learning all about the medium.

After graduating in 2016 with a First, I still felt that I needed to explore many of the themes present in my work – so when I saw the MA in Fine Art was being run at Hereford College of Arts it presented the ideal opportunity for me to continue my studies in a familiar environment with access to great facilities and knowledgeable staff. Having that year between graduation and starting the MA gave me a long enough period of  time to do different things and think about the direction I wanted to go in but, crucially, without losing the momentum built during my degree studies.

It took a while to fully discover what had been present in my work all along; that oftentimes we only see things for what they truly are after a lengthy period of time. The themes of memory and layering are both key factors in my work. My photographic work was never what I’d consider ‘straight’ photography. I’d look at an image and it could never give me a fraction of what I knew to be hidden underneath the surface, so I turned to layering and multiple exposure techniques to give me more of what I needed from an image.

Although I still work with photography – albeit to a lesser degree – my main focus now I’m studying on MA Fine Art is to explore these themes further, and by using different media and looking at new areas of research. I’ve never quite been satisfied with using photography alone, so this year I’m challenging myself to embrace new ways of working! The nature of an MA encourages you to do this. It’s a great way to really pin down where you want to take your work. I’ve started to use textiles, paint and print as ways to explore and experiment with the theme of palimpsest, and I have a sneaking suspicion that I will incorporate other materials and techniques into my work as time goes on and my direction becomes clearer.

We have two taught days per week on the course, but I try to be in the studio at college as much as I can on other days. On any given day I could be doing a number of things linked to my work, whether that’s doing practical creative work, discussing ideas and research topics with my peers during critique sessions and research seminars, or making use of the excellent resources in the college library. There are occasions when I need to step away from the physical act of creating work or reading books, and take the time to ruminate (I love that word!) on ideas for a day or so. I also find it very helpful to ‘clear the decks’ every so often, put work-in-progress aside, and begin something new so that nothing has a chance to stagnate.

Outside of college, it goes without saying I enjoy being creative in other ways. I love to cook and make healthy fermented foods and drinks. I also collect vintage cameras, typewriters, and assorted ephemera. I enjoy being in the garden (in the warmer weather) and someday it would be great to have a few chickens roaming about. I also enjoy learning about self-development, Eastern philosophy, and occult mysticism.