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WOLVES, WONDERMENT & WANDERLUST
STORYTELLER COLLECTION 2022
Read Mark Davies thoughts and behind the scenes inspiration for ‘Wanderlust’ below:Read moreRead less
I have fond memories as a child of the beautifully illustrated books by British novelist Kenneth Grahame and the classic film that evokes vivid images of past Christmases with my family. The characters were just so quirky and great and the whimsical English riverbank scenes were the perfect backdrop, along with the contrasting darkness of the weasels and the wild wood.
It’s funny, as I sit here and write this narrative to accompany this piece there is a beautiful weeping willow tree and it’s flipping windy! The only thing is it’s mid-February so there are bugger all leaves on it but there are the small signs of buds forming. I love it when I see these as I love when Winter turns to Spring, something that I use a lot in my work as a concept. The only downside of seeing these little green lumps is that it also shouts to me that I have to soon start on the preparation for the next collection later in the year!
Way back in 2015, there was a commissioned piece on The Wind in the Willows entitled ‘Appetite for Destruction’ – no, the Guns and Roses belter wasn’t part of the soundtrack, imagine that! Basically, my interpretation of the stories back then was a surreal one, and a dark one at that. It focused on the self-destruction of my favourite character, Toad! I loved his eccentricity and chaos. That piece is one to seek out as it plays out the point where Toad Hall is in flames and burning and all that remains is his cherished sports car that sits beneath a beautiful willow tree. Details that surround the car suggest a dark scenario, it’s beautiful and dark.
However, despite fighting the urge to inject darkness whilst creating ‘Wanderlust’, I am so pleased with what you now see. The aim was to create a truly beautiful and serene piece that would sit perfectly with ‘Keep Me in Your Heart’, my earlier ‘Winnie The Pooh’ piece that captured the imagination of so many. It’s great to really mix things up as an artist and my ‘Wolves, Wonderment and Wanderlust’ represents exactly that. I love switching from a quirky retro inspired piece to a really dark and intense scene and then dropping something like this that is just utterly beautiful and light.
There is so much potential to create many pieces based on the The Wind in the Willows, the Wild Wood appeals and I will tackle that, but ‘Fight or Flight’ takes that spot in this collection as it is set within a dark forest. Next time, next chapter. I love the river; I hate rowing boats! Well, that was born from being petrified as a kid on a boating lake in Ypres – Belgium and I don’t think I’ve been in one since, a swan pedalo doesn’t count right? I set about basing this piece on the river, not only because I knew that it would become a wonderful image, but I like to test myself and working with water and the reflections is a challenge to get it right. Especially when you have little points of reference to guide you when you choose to have a goggle wearing toad and smiling mole frolicking (that’s a great word isn’t it!) in the water.
Wanderlust represents a strong desire to travel, so I thought it a fitting title for what you see before you. I have built on that and evolved it to become the desire to be free also, in whatever form that happens to be. I love to connect with my collectors in many ways and this image is a classic example of one that can simply be enjoyed as a beautiful and happy image, whilst also representing a secondary meaning. Whereas my earlier commissioned piece was more obscure, ‘Wanderlust’ is true to the sentiment of the story. Don’t you just love seeing how proud old Badger looks as he sits on the boat looking out at his companions. It’s the tiny details that I inject that transform what could be quite a sterile element and make it magical and full of emotion.
I hope that I have done this fascinating classic justice in my approach, whilst also hoping to have captured the hearts of those who see much more. Look closely at the detail and you’ll see the subtle butterflies and dandelions that float upwards and towards the sun. It’s that sense of being free that I hope will resonate and bring comfort to many. That can be on many levels but ultimately it is a call to let yourself go, to travel, have fun and be free, however you choose.
So, grab your bathers and let’s go boatin’! Actually, I’ll just watch from the riverbank with a beer, you’ll find me under the balding willow tree!
– Mark Davies
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