2018 was a particularly busy year for Mark McClure, whose creative practice went from strength to strength following a raft of dynamic mural projects, a widely acclaimed collaboration with Campari and his first solo exhibition in the UK. It's all got us wondering what's on the cards for Mark in 2019...

Mark's five-storey high mural for the Brigstock Refugee Hostel

Mark’s practice has long straddled the worlds of fine art and design. From skateboard decks, bespoke interiors and high-spec tabletops to prints, collages, sculpture, mosaics and murals, the breadth of his practice continues to diversify. What's more, his colour palette seems to have broadened and brightened in recent years, with vibrant hues lending a playful tone to the complex urban rhythms of his mosaics, murals and installations... He recently decided to dedicate more time to printmaking and, much to our delight, he’s already getting busy with squeegees and screens. So what else have you been up to Mark?

Installation shot of 'Pseudo Public' – Mark's solo show at The Foundry Gallery

REVIEW // 2018 

“Last year was rather a busy one, with murals on the Thamesmead Estate, in Walthamstow, on the roof at Jealous Gallery, and my tallest mural to date down in Croydon – on the Brigstock Refugee Hostel (a collaboration between Mark, Rise Gallery and Croydon Council) – all of which were great for tightening up my mural process… And overcoming my vertigo!”

Murals by Mark McClure on the Thamesmead Estate

“I spent the majority of the spring and summer working on Pseudo Public – my first UK solo exhibition, at The Foundry Gallery in Chelsea – whilst also being lucky enough to team up with Campari to create a pop-up bar/installation in East London. The Campari Creates project was a huge learning curve. Working with a fantastic production company to realise my ideas was a first for me, and it wasn’t always easy to communicate and vocalise to fabricators what is quite a loose and instinctive process. Explaining the rationale behind any one of a thousand decisions is something we don’t always do as artists – and it was as useful and revealing to me as it was to the rest of the team.” 

Exterior view of the Mostra: Mark McClure's design for Campari Creates, London

“It was interesting to work on both a gallery exhibition and a commercial project in parallel. It raised some challenging questions about the motivations, processes and context of a project. They were two very different ways of working – both rewarding and challenging in their own way, although one did involve a bit more booze than the other...”

'The Disruptive Camofleur', painted and stained wood mosaic by Mark McClure (200cm x 100cm)

“The year culminated with an installation in the foyer at Cannon Place – next to Cannon Street station in London (a collaboration with ArtMoorhouse). This was my first freestanding sculptural work – and a challenge in a number of ways – not least in getting it built ‘blind’ in my studio and keeping the faith that it would connect together as hoped once on site. Just don’t ask how we managed to get it down the studio stairs!”

Mark's freestanding sculpture in the foyer at Cannon Place

“I doubt I’m alone when I say I don’t get to anywhere near as many exhibitions as I’d like, but two gems last year really inspired me to explore new ways of working – in a bid to loosen up and make more instant, playful work. I’d already been working with collage, but seeing the William LaChance show – (After) Edge City at BEERS London – inspired me to push the medium further. And whilst I’ll most likely never be textile artist, the Anni Albers exhibition at Tate Modern was simply stunning in its scope. She was obviously a remarkable woman who was way ahead of her time.”

'NW Passage' (2018) by William LaChance – acrylic, enamel and gouache on shaped and assembled panel – from the BEERS London exhibition '(After) Edge City'

PREVIEW // 2019

“After such a busy year, I’ve been trying to get back to some exploration and playtime in the studio. I don’t do quite as much screenprinting as some of the other Look Up artists. I’ve never really found a process that works for me… I prefer looser, more instant ways of working, and in the past I’ve seen screenprinting as more of a precision based craft. However, I’ve now joined Print Club London in Dalston (conveniently located under my studio), and I’ve started playing with silkscreen. The aim is to push ideas through more quickly and produce looser, layered work without worrying so much about polished, gallery works. So keep an eye out for small, varied editions, monoprints, and printing combined with collage; complete with happy accidents and glitches! I’ve already started – with questionable results… You can follow the inky ride via my Instagram feed.”

Work in progress – one of Mark's printmaking experiments 

“For my Pseudo Public exhibition last year, I also started experimenting with moveable, interactive sculptures and that’s the other side of my ongoing experimentation in the studio. I’ll fit playful sessions in around my next chunky project: an interactive ‘live in' installation in a bedroom – part of the Art Bed and Breakfast project in Blackpool, with eighteen other artists including the fantastic Jenny Steele. The project’s been bubbling away for a few years now – delayed by one thing or another – so I’m super excited to finally get stuck in and make it happen.”

Preparing screens for his recent print sessions at Print Club London

“Other plans include a few fun collaborations, one project will launch at Clerkenwell Design Week and another one is cycling related, both of which I’m rather excited about. Plus, now the weather’s getting better (I’m an optimist), I’m looking forward to getting outside for some painting.”

Conquering his vertigo – Mark working on the Brigstock Refugee Hostel murals

We’d also like to add that Mark will be contributing to our E17 Art Trail exhibition at Buhler and Co, as well as being involved in a show with the fantastic Katy Binks. Their exhibition (in September) is one of three curated by Look Up pairing Walthamstow based artists with guys from our roster. Luckily for us, Mark fits both criteria, and we're looking forward to seeing his work alongside Katy's experimental prints. We’re always eager to see what Mark’s been working on, and having seen a few previews from his new adventures in printmaking, things are looking very positive indeed.

In the meantime... See you in The Bell Mark? Pint of the usual? 

Mark McClure's website 

Mark McClure on Instagram

Mark McClure on Look Up