This interview with Mark Golding explores his inspiration for living in the forest and devoting his life to producing healing art mandalas for himself and others.
I first discovered Mark’s work through the Sync Book Press; his designs are featured on the covers of Sync Books I and II. We both published essays in Sync Book II and have since become friends.
E: How would you describe the style of art that you create?
MG: My art falls into a couple of accepted categories – Sacred Geometry & Mandala, though I like to consider my artworks as ‘Imaginary Medicines’ – medicines that are taken through the eyes.
The capacity of eyesight (perhaps our most powerful sense awareness) to deliver medicine has been overlooked by most, whereas sound healing, aromatherapy and massage have become almost mainstream today.
I think there is much work to be done….
E: Are there any notable artists and/or mentors that inspired you to pursue this technique?
MG: When I started drawing, around 7 years ago, I determined not to study, copy or learn from any other artist, as I felt it would limit my journey of exploration, and in this way I am slowly developing a visual language, idiosyncratic and identifiable as my own. There are other artists I admire within these general oeuvres but again, I steadfastly follow my own explorations, though Leonardo da Vinci and Mauritz Escher both tease me…
E: You seem to have achieved a healthy balance between high quality and prolific output. Have you always been tapped into this high functioning creative state?
MG: The reason why I am prolific and accurate within my art is two-fold.
Firstly my art began around 7 years ago, following a near death experience from which I was called back to this life by the words ‘You have got work to do’. Now I dedicate my life in service to my art in the belief that I might just have an effect of the totality of experience and improve this world for the better.
Secondly I am driven by the need to improve and hone my work, as a chemist or scientist might experiment, in order to better their processes. Indeed both science and chemistry are a part of the functioning of the eye, and by continually experimenting on my own eyes I can improve my capacity to reach into the consciousness of the viewer.
E: Most of your visual art is accompanied by poetic verse. I have come to experience the two as inseparable, as if they are emanating from the same dimension. Can you describe how the verbal and visual realms intersect in your creative process?
MG: The visual leads the process. I create an artwork, over a day or two, based around a concept, conversation or consultation, that generally forms as I draw, though sometimes I will ‘see’ the finished artwork in my mind’s eye, and as the work develops, a story or tale begins to explain itself to me….
When the drawing is complete, I photograph it and view it on my computer, sit with it maybe for an hour or two, and read the manner in which the drawing reveals the concept back to me. Then usually I will get a ‘light bulb’ moment, when the prose pops into my mind and flows onto the paper… It is a two way conversation.
E: I understand that you live near or in the woods, somewhere in the United Kingdom. How does the natural world influence and inspire your artistic expression?
MG: I live off-grid, in the woodlands of Sussex, England. We have solar power for our electricity; we carry water from around 400 yards to our log cabin and carry our wood from about 800 yards… So we live a very simple and humble lifestyle, though the treasures we find by living in nature are incomparable.
Having access to isolation, peace, and quiet are astonishing gifts, and being supported in my artistic endeavour by Gaia is perhaps the most empowering aspect of my work now. Our outgoings are minimal and thus I can immerse myself deeper and deeper into my work. I have started to relate viscerally with the changing light and seasonal energy, as trite as that may sound…
We have just come through a long dark winter, with very little light or electricity, and thus limited time for me to create art. We lived by candlelight for two months. Now the growing light and spring energy is empowering and directly informing me as to how to progress with my year’s work…
E: Do you have a special work station where you produce most of your art?
MG: The cabin is one small space, where we both live, eat, play, sleep and party. I draw upon a small folding table, close to the window, very simply to gain maximum light for the drawing process.
E: I am always fascinated by the human dimension of an artist. What do you like to do before and/or after working on these poetic-geometric pieces?
MG: Man, I never stop! But.. I practice Ashtanga Yoga to keep my body flexible and strong (I have practiced for around 15 years), after morning coffee, attend to the chores of washing up and tidying our space, then I am ready to work on a drawing. This will take up most of the day and early evening.
We’ll take turns in cooking, and the usual household stuff, but man, we like to play. As I mentioned, with no electricity we learned to entertain ourselves, often in the most childish and ridiculous ways, but we love it. Maybe one night a week we will head into the local village and have a couple of beers in the pub, and once a month we will be invited to parties, where I like to play…
We are part of a large extended community/family/tribe of healers/musicians/artists/
freaks/yogis who like to gather and party, festival style, and then I can let loose for the night.
E: Carl Jung wrote extensively about the therapeutic value of creating mandalas. How does your work connect to the healing arts, for yourself and for others?
MG: Maybe it would be possible to share this here, it is the basis of my understanding of how art has the capacity to heal, and mandala and geometry in particular. This is predicated upon the science of the eye, and a rationale as to how science/art/metaphysics might combine – http://markgolding.co.uk/
E: If you could communicate one core idea that embodies the essential message behind all of your work, what would it be?
MG: I wish to create a medicine for the world, one that heals all pain and suffering. Crazy? Sure, but I was gifted another shot at life, so I may as well go for gold.
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You can view more of Mark’s healing mandalas at his website (here).