Mark Edwards is an artist living and working deep in the Scottish Highlands, a modern master in a very British form of surrealism.
The remarkable story of our artist began in 1967, when he went straight from school to study fine art at Medway Art College, met his future wife Sally, and continued his studies at Walthamstow College of Art London. In 1974 after teaching painting and illustration, and exhibiting his work locally, Mark and Sally bought an old 1958 Ford Prefect for £25 and drove up to the very North tip of the Highlands of Scotland. There, on the shores of Loch Hope surrounded by the dramatic mountains of Sutherland, they rented an old rundown shepherd’s cottage with no electricity.
They lived in their remote cottage for 28 years, the first 10 years without electricity, and raised three children. It was a dramatic move but the stunning remoteness and isolation gave Mark the uninterrupted space and time to pursue his artistic ideas. During this period he painted and regularly exhibited throughout Scotland, supplementing his income by working as a gillie on the neighbouring Duke of Westminster estate. This seasonal work inspired a long running series of field sports painting, depicting the lives and work of the men who fished and stalked these remote estates, which grew Mark’s reputation in the Highlands and further afield. In 1984, Mark not only celebrated the addition of electricity and a phone in their cottage, but he was invited to join the prestigious London agency, Artist Partners, run by the art director Chistine Isteed.
Over the years he has illustrated literally hundreds of book covers for authors such as Kingsley Amis, Beryl Bainbridge, Sue Townsend, Michael Morpurgo (including War Horse), Philip Pullman and the bard himself, William Shakespeare. Picture books such as ‘The Sand Children’ by Joyce Dunbar and ‘Narnia Chronology’ by CS Lewis (published in May 08) have been brought to life by Mark’s illustrations. And in 2009 he completed a series of 18 Falco books by Lindsey Davis. Mark’s varied illustration techniques have been analysed, alongside other international artists in ‘The New Guide to Illustration’ (Phaidon Press 1990). Always balancing his illustrations with personal fine art painting, in 2007 he finally stopped working on the hill, and tiring of his deer stalking paintings, he began exploring a new style of work. It was at this time we see the beginnings of ‘The White Wood’. Mark remembers that pivotal change...
'One day, instead of placing a deer in the wood, I came across a 1950’s photo in a magazine of a man reflected in a window on a busy New York street dressed in a bowler hat and coat, so I placed him in the wood. Instantly there was an immediate tension: what was he doing there?'