Sentinels - Mark Munroe-Preston
Philosophers regard trees as observers witnessing the evolution of humans and the planet around them.
Trees are the main focus for Mark Munroe-Preston’s art pieces. He considers that landscapes without these majestic beings don’t really feel like landscapes, they are such an integral part of our perception of the world about us. Mark feels drawn to these incredible organisms, which he finds can be diminutive, delicate, monumental, sculptural and have spiritual qualities. He says: “They provide so much for us, food, shade, air and protection. They have the ability to survive in the harshest conditions. Living such long lives it seems as though they become extensions of the land itself and that is why they have that connection with the ground in my artworks."
Each one of his marvellous trees has a different feel to them, some convey peacefulness, others vibrant energy, etc.
Mark Munroe was born in Yorkshire, England in 1968. He studied photography at Wolverhampton Polytechnic before moving to London in 1991, where he worked as a photographer’s assistant. After this, he became a still life photographer, and also worked other jobs (digital illustrator for book publishers & magazines, a digital retoucher for several national newspapers, a children’s illustrator working in 3D and the Creative Director for an American toy company).
Mark moved to Sussex in 2001 and started exploring the local countryside, particularly the Ashdown Forest and the South Downs National Park with his loyal companions, his dogs.
He feels lucky to have found the amazing varied landscapes in East Sussex, visiting them, even at dawn. From these visits started his journey into art. With the photographs taken, he has created a large catalogue of images from where he starts his works.
Mark digitally merges photographs, paintings, drawings, textures, and found objects to create the final artwork. Some of the pieces are more literal interpretations of the places he has photographed, while others are more conceptual or graphic in their approach, but all seek to evoke the beauty, drama, and atmosphere of the landscapes around him. All of these elements bring back detail and definition to the image while not actually being the original photograph, which he might use as masks to help with the definition. In this respect, it is like ‘painting’ and he is using these layers of images as his brush strokes to build up the final artwork. The colours are often based on the natural colours of the original scene with a tweak to get across the atmosphere Mark wants to communicate to the audience.
His artistic process is much the same as when he was a digital illustrator many years ago, but on a much larger scale, made possible by the power of modern computers. From the original source image, Mark extracts the parts that interest him and combine them with other photographs, scans of found objects, textures, sketches and paintings. Mark’s love of the landscape is matched by a lifelong fascination for the textures created by the decay of the man-made world and his work is often a combination of them both. The idea that something as unremarkable as a patch of rust can be transformed into a thing of beauty when combined with other elements. All these are brought together as layers, often several hundred, in the computer software and combined until he has achieved the desired result. These files are then sent to a specialist fine art printer where they are reproduced with incredible precision, using the highest quality inks and papers, as limited-edition prints.
The names of the pieces often designate the GPS location where the original photograph was taken and can be visited or found on Google Maps.
Mark considers that the composition is crucial and he is always conscious of the structure within the photographs he takes, because it is the skeleton on which the picture hangs. He finds shooting only square formats really helps with constructing strong pictures and is a habit that has stayed with him from when he used to shoot landscape photos on an old twin-lens Mamiya C33.
With the encouragement of his wife, he entered the art world and took part in a local art show. He was amazed and delighted by people’s reaction to his pictures and their interest in how he created them, not to mention the thrill of having someone buy his work to hang on their walls. Mark was deeply touched by the fact that people wanted to take his art into their homes.
In his creations can be found a range of trees and hues, that go from trees made with colours that could be considered more loud, colour wise, with bold vivid contrast images to the more subdued tones he uses in the softer pictures.
We have a beautiful selection of art works by this fabulous artist, in our Brighton gallery and Online Store, art5gallery.com.