PARK LIFE - A Review.
"East Greenwich is developing something of a reputation as a creative hotbed. Close enough to Greenwich town centre and to the cultural quarter of the university, theatre and cinema, it is nonetheless a different world, lingering just outside the magic visitor sphere of royal, Royal Greenwich. It is a different place, but one that is influenced by industry, the river and Greenwich Park. In it’s midst is the Paul McPherson Gallery, a calm white space, several beats removed from it’s former use as the legendary Charlie Wright’s café. The Gallery is an interesting location for Mark Titman’s latest exhibition."
"Mark’s drawings have always demanded uncluttered space to convey their richness and here, the geographic and topographic transition of the place adds a certain subliminal frisson to what at it’s most basic is simply a
collection of drawings hung on walls above a graphic designer’s studio. But it all comes together rather nicely from the point of view of this landscape architect. We have the conscious deliberations of the artist’s endeavours, in a cultural location of some significance – the former local hero (Charlie Wright) displaced by artisan craftsman (Paul McPherson) at a place between water, park, industry, romance, a place of history and of the landscape. It all works for me, even before we have begun to examine the content of the exhibition. Structure and form is something which has long been conveyed in Mark’s work. The delightful detail in his portrait series of houses, lawnmowers and spades cerebrates the pleasure of a well designed object, machine or building. We see this in his winning competition design for the drinking fountain, where he has created a highly crafted solution to a carefully analysed problem."
"Then came the tree. A portrait of a tree seems an unusual commission, but there it is. A carefully drafted piece which celebrates the engineered quality of a plant. It is of course quite normal for architects and engineers to use natural forms to help their quest for bigger, better and more beautiful things. It is less obvious perhaps to seek the qualities of built form in nature. Mark explores the essence of trees in this collection. Their shape, form and texture. Their translucent quality which exists whether in leaf or not. Take a walk through Greenwich Park in winter and then try to say again that you can see through trees when they are not in leaf. These are rapid paintings, conveyed with a loose energetic quality which nevertheless contain beautifully executed moments of draftsmanship of perhaps a dog walker, or a seat. They are connected with the landscape too, a context , a moment in which it is possible for the initiated to be able to recognise and greet familiar places as old friends".
"But best of all is the colour which falls away in layers to reveal what I suspect is the main purpose here, to try to unravel and expose that ethereal quality of what for most of us are static objects, but to Mark are shimmering beings striding through a familiar and robust universe.…and then it was over, and time to go to the pub."
by Jo Watkins, Landscape architect
Mark Titman has recently been commissioned to design and install a drinking fountain for The Royal Parks in conjunction with Tiffany’s. “Watering Holes” offers the drinker the opportunity to become immersed in the experience of having a drink and being at one with the elements. The act of inserting one’s head into a hole within a stone to receive a drink is both a reference to ancient stone structures and rituals and a timeless response to the axis mundi and the elements of earth, sky and water.
Mark Titman's "Park Life" watercolour paintings continue this theme of the individual becoming immersed or fully engaged in space by extending the views beyond what is seen in front of the eye. The paintings look beyond the immediate physical surface and also become an extension of the surrounding life forms. The paintings form part of a series of x-ray explorations into the lively and vibrant nature of walking in the park during the transition period of late Autumn/early Spring. They are a study of vibrancy and reveal how much each species offers its own colour and individual form to the complex experience of being immersed within nature's fold.
Painted on site in Greenwich Park, the process involved the artist channelling individual trees’ and plants’ responses to a psychic dialogue. The artist relinquished as much control as possible whilst drawing their outlines without looking at the paper. In some ways, these are paintings made by the trees and therefore suggest ways of automatic painting and a different type of authorship. Here the author/artist is immersed in the environment of living colour and form that can speak. The onus was on the artist to listen, not to project, and to become the space by being small. Here the artist is both point and periphery; an extended mind where the trees have both tears and laughter.
Paul McPherson Gallery,
77 Lassell Street,
London SE10 9PJ