We cooperate as an association to advance the practice of sculpture and the reputation and appreciation of sculpture and sculptors in the community. This is regardless of whether or not we make a living from sculpture and regardless of our preferred style or medium. To this end we support artists’ moral rights, we advocate a professional attitude to the production and presentation of work and encourage the artistic and intellectual stimulation of interaction amongst artists of all persuasions.

Interview with Sculptor, Mark Cowie

One becomes two’ 2006 mild steel (All photographs courtesy of the artist)

‘Navigation’ 2011, mild steel and redgum
‘Jonah’s Journey’ 2006, mild steel
‘Guardian Spirit’ 2009 mild steel, redgum and stone
Katherine & Zoe: Your works resemble those of the 20th century Modernists such as Caro, Calder; and your ‘Trees’ are highly reminiscent of Jean Arp’s, ‘Sculpture to be lost in the forest’. Why do you create abstract Sculptures?
Mark: The artists mentioned are ones I have admired and researched quite extensively, along with a diverse range of Australian and other international visual artists. I like to think the influences that preside over my own sculpting practice are many and varied, yet there is little doubt that a handful of Australian sculptors have had a more direct influence in my artistic education, as evidenced in the styles displayed in many of my earlier sculptures.
Creating abstract visual art forms enables me to express elements of those matters that are inherent in the broader collective and which, hopefully, refl ect some fragment of the human condition. Yet such elements are primarily intangible and near-on impossible to adequately describe or explain, and that is where sculpting steps in to occupy a small part of the immense void in my understanding of pretty much most things. Put simply, I find creating abstract sculpture a vividly expressive experience. For me, the process drills into and occasions the release of layers of feelings, sensations, intuitive responses and matters emanating from the unconscious. It raises questions of how much of my output is as a result of simply being a conduit for greater expressive forces distilled in hitherto mysterious domains. The capacity of art to encourage awareness and engender mindfulness continues to amaze and impress me.
K & Z: What and who inspires your works?
M: At the most immediate level, my intuition inspires me. It is the way I work predominantly. Although I do a lot of drawing and sketching, so very little of my work is shaped or determined by prepared plans and designs. The process pretty much commences when I enter my workshop. There is too numerous a collection of sculptors, whose breadth of work I indulge in and admire, to do justice in this format. Suffice to say, Lenton Parr, Anthony Pryor and Geoffrey Bartlett were early inspirations, as was the delightful Peter Blizzard. As
my practice evolves I am constantly inspired by the works of many contemporary Australian sculptors. And more than anything I feel inspired by the flow of thoughts and kernels of ideas generated through interaction and discussion with fellow sculptors.
K&Z: Your works show a vast knowledge of materials and techniques that come from training and experience. How did you develop these skills?
M: I do not profess to possessing the strongest or broadest range of skill sets. My skills are adequate, yet evolving. I am always tapping into the experience of others and seeking knowledge from those who have attained profi ciencies and competencies in their chosen mediums. I have been fortunate enough to receive tutelage from and be shown methods and techniques from a broad range of people, working in diverse artistic disciplines and in the fabricating and engineering-related fi elds. Several years ago I undertook training in engineering and metal fabrication at TAFE, which provided a strong foundation for much of my work in steel.
K&Z: You use a lot of colour in your works. Do you think that colour enhances a sculpture? What is your theory on colour?
M: I’m not sure I have any particular theory on colour, other than I like, at certain times, certain colours more than others. It is, at best, a transitory association because there are times when I believe a piece works best when presented in its raw organic state. That all said, I do seem to find yellow a very appealing colour and it has featured in a number of my works. More recently, I have become rather fascinated by the range of patinas and finishes that can be applied to bronze.
‘Seeking Wisdom’, 2008 painted mild steel

‘Cloud Tree’, 2010 bronze

‘Dance of Life’. 2009 painted mild steel and redgum

‘Echoes’ ,2007 mild steel

’’Blood of Eden’, 2009 painted wood and mild steel

‘Vision of the Infinite’, 2008 painted mild steel and wood

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