Mark Mcclure – Neatly Ordered Abstraction

Mark Mcclure is an artist who utilizes reclaimed wood to create precise geometric artworks. Using both painted and untreated woods; his works have a crisp yet raw feel that exist symbiotically to create an ordered and balanced work. Sitting somewhere between sculpture, collage, and painting, his work is best interpreted when viewed in its relation to Constructivism.

BM – You combine both old and new materials in your work. Does the history of the materials ever dictate the aesthetic of the piece?

Not really. I tend not to do things that way round. I choose the materials for their colour & texture – in the same way a painter might choose from a selection of paints or charcoals. Texture, colour, and any remnants of past use – all contribute to a pretty broad palette.

If I’m after specific textures or remnants to use – then I might stain the wood to adjust the colours slightly – but the history of materials never really takes priority.

BM – There is a conflict between form and functionality, which do you think takes precedent?

It’s interesting that you’ve preloaded the question suggesting that form and function are independent of each other. To me it’s all a sliding scale depending upon the context of a piece.

If I’m creating a wooden mural then it would automatically adopt the function of a wall surface – whilst also being an artwork. If I put a hinged door in a sculpture – it becomes a cupboard of sorts. It might be a bloody expensive & abstract cupboard – but it’s still got the potential to be a cupboard. It’s down to the context of the artwork – who owns it, how they perceive it, probably how much they paid for it as well.

BM – You have mentioned to me before that you would identify yourself as a constructivist. The Constructivists believed that the true goal was to make mass-produced objects. Your work is very hands-on, how would you feel about others making it for you?
The Constructivists had their own in-fights over the ideas of mass production. The likes of Rodchenko straddled the worlds of art & design – whilst others such as Naum Gabo believed in a purer approach that didn’t cross over into function. For me that goes back to the sliding scale & context of the artwork.

But mass production is a different beast to having other people involved in making artworks. The Uphoarding wall I created at the Olympic Park last year involved up to about 10 different people over a 10 month period – and in the future I’ll make artworks in materials I will never have time to master myself – concrete, metal etc. – So it’s inevitable that others will end up producing some of my work.

BM – Would it still feel like your artworks if you didn’t get your hands dirty?

Yes – but without the emotional attachment that comes from being so involved at every step – an attachment that probably stems from the craft side of things. They’d be put on a different shelf in my mind – but they’d still be mine.

BM – What makes the Constructivists artists as opposed to craftsmen?

Many of them were craftsmen – in that they strived to be masters of their materials – producing clothing, design objects etc. with a view to targeting a consumer market. Others had less tangible, idealistic aims – challenging or celebrating aspects of the world they lived in – expressing feeling and emotion etc. and I guess that’s what makes them artists.

BM – The Constructivists’s aim was to make artworks that force the viewer to become an ‘active viewer’, how interactive is your work and do you intend for it to be touched?

Interaction is really important and working in such tactile materials has meant that it’s hard not to touch a lot of my work – which is totally cool. I love the idea of artworks in galleries being more playful and interactive – though interaction doesn’t always have to involve touch. This is something I’m going to play with more this year…. some exciting ideas on the cards.

BM – When you clad the floor or a wall, do you see this as a two-dimensional or a three dimensional piece?

2 dimensions. I’m not too sure where the tipping point is – probably somewhere around 4 inches thick.

BM – Is collage then 2D or 3D? Would you say your work is a type of collage?

Potentially both – can we invent dimensional fractions here & now? 2.3 dimensions? I wouldn’t say my work right now is collage… though it has been. Collage to me is more layer upon layer than piece by piece – and involves a lot more glue.

BM – What exciting future projects are you working on?

A nice mix right now – a large bespoke floor and a few other fun pieces towards the ‘function’ end of that sliding scale we mentioned earlier – and also some new artworks for exhibitions & fairs over the summer. I’m also exploring some materials to add a new aspect to my work later this year. Some busy & exciting months ahead.