Mark Sloper

Contemporary artist Mark Sloper featured in CAKE
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

If you can picture yourself in Soho London’s red light district back in the 70’s with the neon lights, the Punk rock era of the Kings Road, the Sex Pistols, Vivienne Westwood together with Malcolm McLaren, down at the Worlds End. The whole nostalgia of those rebellious times in the UK, where everything was put to question and a revolution was taking place against the establishment.  It still remains however, it lingers like hangers on at the end of a party, you see dribbles of it trying to make some form of rhetoric, in fashion, in film and in art.  Mark Sloper’s work is a slap in the face.  It’s nothing short of a journey in history taking us way back to where most recent revolutions began.  I am standing in front of one of his artworks, it’s the American flag with only 48 stars, the original flag going back to 1908, the words in neon represent what the flag stands for “ Hardiness and valour, Purity and innocence, Vigilance and Justice”.  It is a welcome to all the immigrants coming to the USA.  Mark’s work embodies everything he loves combined with everything he stands for.  His recent commission a series of work, titled ‘Heaven Sent.’

Artwork by Mark Sloper in CAKE
Artwork by Illuminati Neon
Artwork by Mark Sloper
Heaven Sent by Illuminati Neon
Artwork by Mark Sloper featured in CAKE
Artwork by Illuminati Neon

These artworks narrate the topics of Anarchy, the Illuminati, with images of Queen Elizabeth II, William and Kate, to Marylyn Monroe, and his recent artwork of Donald Trump embodying a Nazi officer in front of the American flag, illuminated by the bright pastels of the neon lights reminiscent of an amusement park, but nothing amusing within his narrative.  His artworks are beautiful to the eye, the bright pastels and primary colours.  However as with all good art, the messages runs deep and evoke the emotion within us.  As I try to explore a bit deeper with Mark, it proves difficult at first, it’s hard to get a word in, as he is so busy explaining everything and is super confident, however I want to know a bit more, and for him to reveal himself.   Art is about what the artist is trying to represent, but often it’s not what he is trying to get us to see, but what is actually being said.

Artwork by Mark Sloper featured in CAKE
Artwork by Illuminati Neon
Artwork by Mark Sloper featured in CAKE
Artwork by Illuminati Neon

Mark was raised by his Aunty Janey who was a religious lady and head of the Salvation Army, his father had left the family and his mother often tackling with depression struggled raising her son.  The community in Cornwall, surrounded by sea is a breathtaking part of the United Kingdom, famous for its Pirates of Penzance and the Minack theatre built into the cliffs by the Atlantic ocean as well as very famous artists.  Mark is a proud Cornish man whose heritage goes back to the 12 century, the Cornish being more English than the English, with Celtic origin he clarifies.  As a South African myself, I was unaware the Cornish actually having their own language like the Welsh.  Mark explains growing up in St Ives, with a family of artists including his adopted uncle the painter Eric Ward, whose work is still displayed at The Tate.  Mark’s early education was amongst these artists such as Terry Frost, Alfred Wallace and John Christopher, as well as the Head of St. Ives Art School.  However revealing that as a boy, he used to think, ‘How boring is Art’ as he was completely surrounded by it.

Artwork by Mark Sloper featured in CAKE
Artwork by Illuminati Neon
Artwork by Mark Sloper in CAKE
Artwork by Illuminati Neon

The bright child eventually won a scholarship to a prestigious private school. However was obsessed with Punk Rock, watching the Sex Pistols at the age of 12 already, eventually becoming friends with drummer Paul Cook and guitarist Steve Jones.  He attended an Art Foundation in Bath and then followed on to the Psalter Lane Art College with is now Sheffield University.  Although he initially wanted to be a pop star, Mark had a career in Film and Television and set up a successful business, 400 Television ltd.  After graduating from University, studying art and photography but actually finding photography dull, so he became a film maker instead.  Working with the BBC as well as producing and directing his own films, making films for the Sex pistols, as well as The Final Cut with Jude Law, Ray Winstone and Sadie Frost in 1998, which was really successful.  Other legendary productions followed such as, Small Time Obsession in 2000; Sid!  By those who really knew him in 2009.  Along with Superbiker: Day of Reckoning, 2013 then there is Superbiker II, III and IV as well as Billy Fury – The Sound of Fury,  and this year he released, Speed is my need, which Mark sold to Netflix.

Artwork by Mark Sloper featured in CAKE
Artwork by Illuminati Leon
Artwork by Mark Sloper featured in CAKE
Artwork by Illuminati Neon

Mark’s work as an artist is more of a recent acquisition, it’s what has taken most of his passion recently, he started taking it seriously six to seven years ago.  His work appearing in the Saatchi Gallery this September, with best emerging artists in the world.  It has the dynamics of his films, energetic and temperamental.  He is already creating a following as he is the only one doing what he doing with neon.  His influences like Chris Bracey, who said,“There is a light that never goes out ” he was the king of neon Mark informs me.  “He was the man who lit up Soho.”  Marks artworks may light up a room or a gallery, however there is the ultimate double entendre, and it’s there for a reason, you are supposed to see the supposition and that is what English contemporary art is, the references to something else.

contemporary artist Mark Sloper featured in CAKE
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

Tim Christie

Tim Christie portrait in CAKE
Photo: Katie Christie

When you think of the perfection of symmetry, what comes to mind? The way a sun sets across the straight line of a horizon, the face of a tiger with perfect proportions, the lines around her perfect almond shaped eyes and her triangular nose.  Maybe you consider perfection the angles and structures of the Sydney Opera House or maybe the Contemporary Art Museum in Niteroi.  Do you think of mathematics when you stare at a human face?  The perfection of symmetry and proportion when you look at a flower or the repetitive patterns in nature as Alan Turing started to explore, when he connected the mathematics to nature.  Tim Christie’s ‘MONOMOKO’ artworks series, explore the idea of symmetry and perfection, encapsulated in an Op art style combined with the elements of De Stijl.  The stripes making up the artworks of human faces and animal’s faces, it’s abstract and monochrome, it is modern art at its ultimate.  Originally conceptualised on his Macbook whilst on holiday in Scotland.

Artwork by Tim Christie
Life Saver by Tim Christie
Artwork by Tim Christie
Mr Mistoffelees by Tim Christie

Now his artworks are meticulously painted, the metallics and colours creating a more 3D effect of what is almost 2D art.  Initially when gazing at these works you don’t quite understand what you are seeing, when you realise that it is Anthropomorphic, dogs heads, cats or bulls on a human body wearing spectacles or just a straightforward artwork of two rams locking horns or the majesty of a Stag or a bull.  Then there are the human faces.

Artwork by Tim Christie
Wolf Of Wall Street by Tim Christie
artwork by Tim Christie
Cat Walk by Tim Christie
Artwork by Tim Christie
Rucking Rams by Tim Christie

Born in Wellington New Zealand, Tim enjoyed art from a young age and excelled in art at school.  He attended Design School for four years majoring in visual communications.  After graduating he landed his first job in an ad agency in Wellington, working for Red Rocks for two years which eventually became Ogilvy & Mather, before embarking on the trip of a lifetime.  In his own words it was probably one of the best experiences of his life as he traveled overland through Northern Pakistan, the Himalayas, driving through deserts, visiting places like Nepal, Thailand, Syria, Iran and Egypt often travelling on the back of a pick up truck with the wind in his face breathing in the dust of the desert.   With serious encounters along the way, including his passport, British visa and money being stolen by some friends he thought he had made whilst exploring Turkey, only to be kidnapped and robbed, scuppering his plans to work in London.  Along with other close encounters whilst in Amsterdam, being held hostage by a two-faced landlord whilst his brother had to return with money.  Tim, clarifies that he had been over confident after his travels and some of these confrontations humbled him.  He decided to return home.

Artwork by Tim Christie
Professor Pink by Tim Christie
Artwork by Tim Christie
Golden Lab by Tim Christie

Once he was back in Wellington, he started work as a design specialist for Clemenger BBDO where he remained for six years before being head hunted by another ad agency.  In 2008 during the financial crisis Tim was made redundant and he leapt at the opportunity to freelance full-time, to build his own client base and explore other opportunities.  He developed a palour game ‘Flatulate’ after meeting the inventor at a dinner party.  After much teary eyed laughter Tim knew she was on to something and so they established MHO games.  When they created an online shop for the game he and the web developer saw a business opportunity and they set up storbie.com – an e-commerce platform for people to create their own online stores.  However Tim’s journey as a fine artist only started to evolve around 2009, with a small exhibition on large canvases replicating the tire treads of mountain bikes, titled ‘Treadmarks’ the response led Tim to enjoy the idea of switching from the design world to Fine Art.

Artwork by Tim Christie
Non Binary by Tim Christie
Artwork by Tim Christie
Coexistence by Tim Christie
Artwork by Tim Christie
Giraffe in Scarf by Tim Christie

His latest epiphany came whilst traveling with his family on a five weeks break to Scotland, stopping over in Dubai and taking in the architectural culture of this extraordinary place, when he conceived MONOMOKO.  He had been wrestling with the idea partly in his subconscious he explains, the idea of facial systematic and linear geometric styling.  Refining the key characteristics of faces whether it be human or animal, and focus on shape.  His first design of a polar bear materialised the abstract thinking into something tangible. Producing really large prints on canvas, he realised how the bigger they were the more abstract they became.  He first exhibited at the New Zealand Art Show where he sold out on opening night and it snowballed from there.  Sydney was the first place he displayed massive pieces, where people walked past utterly transfixed, at first none of them realising what they were looking at, until they moved back for the perspective.  After 20 years in the design business, being thrown into a world doing something so personal and the freedom he enjoys, as well as his success, that he has created this incredible momentum.  His work appearing at the Turner Barnes Gallery and currently with Castle Fine Art in Chester and then Castle Fine Art in Westfield Stratford London from this Friday 2-23 August 2019  as well as Art Fairs in the UK, Sydney, Wellington and Hong Kong.

Portrait of artist Tim Christie
Photo Val Buckland