SUNNY SIDE UP

“Because I can’t do anything else”, is the simple answer to the question why Mark Tough, 48, became an artist. He is hanging around outside the Framed Gallery, where he currently holds an exhibition. While enjoying the sun he talks about his art, what inspires him and his hometown Edinburgh. “Designing and creating things is […]

“Because I can’t do anything else”, is the simple answer to the question why Mark Tough, 48, became an artist. He is hanging around outside the Framed Gallery, where he currently holds an exhibition. While enjoying the sun he talks about his art, what inspires him and his hometown Edinburgh. “Designing and creating things is natural to me. I like producing art pieces mainly to please myself.”

His latest work displays steel sculptures and paintings including crafts with unique industrial timeless style. Even though he uses cold harsh material, the works somehow seem to be full of life. “The steel craft mostly developed naturally. I like things just the way they are. And I like it simple, that’s why I only use one colour for my paintings”, Mark explains. The handmade furniture consists of recycled things he found in second hand shops or on the street. One piece shows a simple wooden chair, which has a broken leg and missing arms. Somebody had thrown it away. Mark renovated the chair in his individual style, making it look almost like a mechanical spider. “My aim is to take old pieces and put them into a new contemporary context”, he adds with passion in his eyes.

A main inspiration for his work was a sculpture titled “The Rock Driller” by Jacob Epstein. The artist himself was inspired by the machine age. “That’s what makes it timeless”, says Mark emphatically. He knows everything about the work’s history and appears to be deeply touched while talking about it. Created in 1913/14, Epstein changed the sculpture around after World War I, taking away its greatness and making it look vulnerable like a victim of violence in modern life.

The figure is shown in the Jupiter Artland Gallery in Edinburgh, one of Marks favourite art galleries. “It’s a good vibe there. Galleries in Edinburgh often seem to be pretentious and inaccessible to people who look like they can’t afford the work shown there. Though they should be edgy, fun and open to everybody”, Mark says and he continues, “Contemporary art needs to be more pushed here. There are so many great artists. Hardly anyone knows that there are also exhibitions at the College of Art.”

Nevertheless, Edinburgh also plays a certain part in his art and inspires him. “My favourite time of the year is August, when all the festivals take place. The city’s brilliant, there’s so much going on. I like just walking down new town in the evening or on a warm sunny day like it is today”, Mark says with a smile and he continues, “The Georgian buildings, the cosmopolitan style, the friendliness of the people – that’s what makes it easy to work and live here.”

Sabine Pusswald

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CTR Travel Writing Team Edinburgh 2011

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