Mark Raynes Roberts is a multi-talented creator, a crystal sculpture artist and photographer, and I’ve had the great pleasure of knowing him since we first met in the fall of 2015. At that time, he was finalizing preparations for his Illumination exhibition that featured twelve crystal pieces that he intricately hand-engraved with images inspired by passages from Canadian literature based on the theme of light. I was wondering what he had been up to lately, and was delighted when I ran into him at a recent art show because I learned that he had a new project in the works - he created a series of sculptures for WAR Flowers: A Touring Art Exhibition. I was beyond thrilled at my luck in running into Mark at the perfect time - I had written articles about his two Illumination exhibitions a couple of years ago (one featuring his crystal pieces, the other his photography), and I was excited to share his latest project. It’s with great pleasure that I introduce you to Mark Raynes Roberts and his work!
Crystal sculpture and detail of INNOCENCE
Mark’s crystal pieces are beautiful works of art that take hours upon hours to complete. He uses two techniques to achieve the engraved effects - a stippling technique that dates back to the 17th century, and deep intaglio diamond wheel-engraving. Mark created ten sculptures to contribute to the WAR Flowers exhibition; each of the ten pieces represent an emotion associated with wartime and depict scenes that illustrate various aspects of human nature as they relate to war (“innocence,” “solitude,” “familial love” and “memory,” to name a few). Mark’s crystal pieces are one part of a more comprehensive, fully immersive exhibition that involves a complete sensory experience of sight, smell and sound (WAR Flowers: A Touring Art Exhibition is inspired by the preserved pressed flowers picked by George Stephen Cantlie, a soldier during World War I, which are on display along with his wartime letters, and complimented by Mark’s crystal pieces, as well as scents developed by perfumer Alexandra Bachand; artistic representations that reflect exhibition curator Viveka Melki’s belief in the resilience of the human spirit).
Crystal sculpture and detail of FAMILIAL LOVE
Having relatives who fought in the war made this project deeply personal for Mark, but he also felt a connection to it because the ten emotions that had been selected for the exhibition are not exclusive to wartime, they are enduring emotions that touch us all at some point in our lives. As he told me about the exhibition and his creative process, I could feel the genuine passion Mark has for having created these crystal pieces. With these ten pieces, Mark wanted to show the beauty that exists within tragedy and the scenes he engraved embrace this dichotomy, which he achieved gracefully and with the utmost respect. Mark has a way of articulating his artistry so that you feel all the passion, emotion, and technical expertise that went into it, and this feeling is tenfold when you see the pieces on display. Pictures and words don’t come close to giving justice to how beautiful Mark’s crystal pieces are, they really do need to be experienced in person. See them on display for yourself - WAR Flowers: A Touring Art Exhibition opens at Campbell House Museum in Toronto on January 24th and is on until March 25th, 2018.
I hope you will take some time to visit Mark Raynes Roberts online to see his portfolio of work, from his crystal art to his photography. He’s an extremely talented artist who puts so much into his work (interesting fact - he also created the crystal trophy awarded to the winner of the Pegasus World Cup Invitational, the world’s richest thoroughbred horse race). I have much admiration for Mark, and my life is more artistically and culturally enriched with him in it. I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know him, and that you get a chance to see his pieces on display in his latest exhibition.
Want more? Here’s what #WeWantToKnow about Mark:
I can't start my morning without...taking tea and toast up to my wife in bed while we listen to a BBC Radio 4, Desert Island Discs interview hosted by Kirsty Young.
I have a weakness for...the music of the late jazz impresario and pianist Bill Evans.
Most people don't know that I...listen to Ralph Vaughan Williams beautiful classical work “Lark Ascending” everyday.
Currently reading... NO MAN’S LAND novel by David Baldacci.
I want...I don’t want anything personally, just a long happy and healthy life together with my wife Sarah and our sons.
Thank you Mark, for your time and participation in #WeWantToKnow!