Mark Wickham (CR 1965–69) taught Art at Marlborough College and ran the Art Department for several terms between Richard Shirley Smith’s (CR 1966–71) and Robin Child’s stewardships (CR 1971–92). He lives and works in Devizes.
Mark trained at the Slade School of Fine Art in London and the teaching there made a positively indelible, refreshing mark across his practice. A handsomely illustrated book showing this artist’s breathtakingly beautiful drawing and accomplished painting mirrored within formal commissioned portraits, landscapes, still lives and nude compositions was published this autumn. Mark’s astute eye and aesthetic is alert, live and in abundance; serious, kindly, witty and contemplative. It is a joyous publication.
I am happy to share the below with the reader. It is something I wrote immediately after visiting Mark’s studio home for the first time last August:
Mark Wickham delights in making. This joy is immediate, palpable and manifest in his visual practice and is an extension of his being. He moves with fluent ease between lyric and incisive recordings from pencil onto paper to resolved compositions in paint. In his hands shape, pattern, density, texture, colour and mood come alive to evoke a memory, resonate a feeling, strike a chord and convey a message. Some works are symphonic in scale of expression, others more like sonatas and chamber music and more often than not, Mark’s compositions are parallel to lyric piano pieces. The musical analogy is cogent as music is of key importance to him; in essence Mark brings music to visible form.
I believe the secret to Mark’s distinctiveness lies in three key areas. The first is he is a resolute master of line. This he uses like the strings of a violin and often sparingly. The delicacy and strength of his drawing stands up wonderfully to those of William Orpen, the best of Augustus John, early Degas and Ingres, Annigoni and Andrew Wyeth. I say this with conviction. It is heartening to see. The second is his quietly dignified, joyful relish and command of colour and pigment to breathe life whether it be a portrait, landscape or semi-narrative still life composition. In this Mark makes his own. The third is this body of work is cumulative in terms of wisdom and experience, knowledge and life. The miracle is Mark can translate this through his creativity for the viewer to enjoy, consider, embrace and, if we allow it, to gain much.
Edward Twohig RE
Head of Art