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Artist Interview: Mark Powell - Part one
Editorial / Artists

Artist Interview: Mark Powell - Part one

14 Feb 2016

Your new body of work incorporates tribal characters, this is not something we’ve seen before. Are these figures you’ve seen on your travels? Like this woman with the earnings.

Some of them have been form travels, walking around and things like that. Some are from old photo albums. I’ve been working from world war photos - from 1912 or something like that - so I have some Kenyan tribal photo albums.

Pride Makes Feet Stronger

Where did you get the Kenyan photo album?

Oh just a vintage shop or thrift shop - I've got hundreds of them.

Do they give you provenance from where it’s from?

No because they can all be different - you might have a big guy sat in a pool, or some safari hunter - they are all over the place. But on the back there is always something, like ‘ruth 1942’…

What has been your most memorable travel destination?

There's been a lot of trips - but it would have to be the most recent Amazon trip I did. And going to the tribes.

How long ago were you there?

About 18 months ago - I met a couple of kings. They gave me something and said it might make me sick.

Was it hallucinogenic?

Unfortunately not - I went to Northern Peru, and they tend to give out the hallucinogenics in clinics to people and stuff to find themselves.

Did you find yourself?

No - I wasn’t really looking that hard.

So Many Questions Towards Ears Of Silver

What's next in terms of travel and work?

I’m gonna do a series this year and next year - visiting cities for three weeks, maybe a month - and just do the people of that city. I’ll do Berlin, New York, Stockholm, Rio, the Amazon, San Fransisco, the Middle East, Asia. Preferably, what I’d want to do is, instead of drawing them on documents from their culture, is to get them to write a story - whatever they want to write down.

So, have you ever tried your hand at writing?

Yeah - I used to do that all the time.

Tall Men Feel The Sun

Do you title before or after?

Usually after or during - never before

So - what’s at the top of your list to travel to out of places you haven’t visited, and what's been your weirdest travel encounter?

Top of my list is anywhere. There's nowhere I wouldn’t go…I was going to move to Alaska, just because it was a stupid idea. They offered me a show at the University. They wanted me to do some lecturing to the students and share my process.

I’d like to go to a war zone. I was going to do a series on army vets that have been wounded - you can get the envelopes from the war ministry. I was going to do that to raise money for Help for Heroes. But anyway, I’d literally go anywhere, anytime.

And the weirdest encounter?

There been a few.

What springs to mind?

When I was in America for the second time having a show. I was in the gallery doing a giant painting, and I had drank a case of 24 beers so I was in a good mood - I think. And I was dancing to ‘Oh Yeah’ by Andre 3000 -

You mean ‘Hey Ya’…

Yeah - and I was bouncing around just by myself - it was about 3am. The music was as loud as it could be and there were two cops behind me, unbeknown to me, and they were stood there like two westerners in some gun slinging match, because they thought I was some kind of nutter. This was in Reno. And they waited for the song to stop, so I went to put another one on, and they were like ‘what are you doing son’? And I was not really with it, so tried to explain everything to them… Anyway it was alright in the end when they knew I was a good person…

Another one is when I nearly walked to Finland, from Stockholm. I was in a club, and I spent every penny I had buying vodka red bulls for everyone. This was when I was a student. And my buddy had to pay for everything whilst I was there. And on the first night, we met some people, and I was dancing on the dance floor to Metallica, then realised everyone had left. So I decided to leave but went in the opposite direction for three hours - there was 9 ft of snow everywhere. And I was like - this isn’t the right way because its only a 2 minute walk back to where I’m staying. So I turned around and started to walk back. I kept looking for a doorway to sleep in and couldn’t find anywhere. I can remember seeing a Mosque in the distance, focused on that, and got back 6 hours later. I had icicles on my beard. It was about 9.30 in the morning by the time I had got back, and some Germans just gave me some beers. That was fun.

Midnight Songs Don't Echo

Look out for part 2 coming soon...

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