Mark Sowden

Lives & works: London

Photographer, mudlark and object-based artist, Mark Sowden, was born in London in 1962 and spent his early childhood in Australia, which kindled a strong interest in fossils and found objects. When Mark was ten his family relocated to London, he ensured his childhood fossil collection also made the journey back to the UK. During later Fine Art studies in London, Mark gravitated towards the sculpture department and the processes and materials that further engaged his curiosity and investigation into the environment and material culture contained within the landscape.

Mark studied Fine Art MA at Manchester University where he was introduced to the ‘lost’ wax process for bronze casting and started to make sculptural works that imaginatively transformed the domestic landscape. On returning from Manchester to London, these skills and lines of enquiry led to work as a sculpture technician at the University of East London, where he assisted in teaching skills in casting ceramic and metalwork, whilst also widening his own fine art practice towards contemporary photography which he also now combines with the curation of found objects.

While studying a Professional Doctorate in Fine Art at University of East London, Mark’s photographic work started recording encounters with objects in the landscape, which led to an exploration of the Thames foreshore. He has now built a collection of objects, partial  –  mainly ceramic *sherds of Delft pottery (*sherds: an archeological term for broken pieces of ceramic material, especially those found on historic sites), and some dating back to ancient Roman times. The curation and photographic documentation of these objects restores them once again to visibility and reintroduces them to the stream of lived experience, while offering tantalising clues about their history.

The image in the limited edition print: Delftware Reconstruction shows a shard of Delft pottery, juxtaposed against its computer generated, 21stcentury, offspring – a three dimensional reconstruction of the original piece –  created from a synthesis of state-of-the-art computer technology and the faded, yet somehow venerable information still detectable in a 400 year old, simple domestic artefact.

Mark has exhibited his work at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in London, and a selection of solo and group shows also include: By the way, Lewisham Art House (2019); Things That Are There,Pie Factory, Margate, UK (2015);Possible Object, University of East London, Docklands Campus. (2014); After Image. 8th Summer Festival of International Art, Emerson Gallery, Berlin. (2013); Directional Forces, residency and exhibition at Artoll, Bedburg Hau, Germany, (2012).

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