Mark Hislop

Mark Hislop

Mark Hislop

Mark Hislop’s work reflects an ongoing and focused interest in photography, landscape and botanical life. The literary notion of a ‘chance setting’, the title of his recent exhibition, where characters adapt to random settings and where the narrative evolves intuitively, suggests a place where one might conduct trials, experiments or observations. And, in this case, a space where painting can occur.

During Melbourne’s Lockdowns (2020 and 2021), Hislop’s personal narrative and story evolved within the space he inhabited every day – the space betwixt-and-between his home and studio, which are located at walking distance apart. The forms of garden and neighbourhood plants, along with the culturally informed context of their untamed beauty and growth, ignited inspiration for his most recent work.

Pippa Milne, Senior Curator at Monash Gallery of Art, describes the special significance of the local paths and streets the artist walks and how this experience informs his work:

“The walk between the two places takes him through the wide streets of Parkville, through North Fitzroy, across some intersections and over some four-lane roads, but also past fence after fence bordering yards and pavement. These suburbs were some of Melbourne’s immigrant neighbourhoods, and the yards would have been tended by men and women in the process of making Australia their home. Their gardens were filled with flowers, shrubbery and fruit trees – netted in springtime and heavy with fruit in summer, softening the straight lines of architecture, concrete paths and fences.

On his walks to the studio, Hislop photographs these escaping plants. In his images, their forms stretch and curl, leaves unfurling and tendrils spiralling. Only these botanical elements survive his subsequent process of gridding, drafting and transferring these images onto transparent acrylic sheets. What remains are the incidentals, which are now the protagonists of these quadrants.

The process of walking is often practical, getting one from A to B, but it is also in-between time in the most literal and also metaphorical way. Often, it’s in moments of limbo that interesting thoughts occur, or that something unformed in one’s mind becomes clear. Muscle memory takes over and the mind is left to rove. Observations become intuitive and clear thoughts can bubble to the surface. The practical habit of getting from home to the studio has become intimately involved in the making of the artwork.

The process of making these paintings is also bound up into this habit of walking. It is structured and laborious, but perhaps also meditative and driven by habit. The artist moves through the drafting process with logic and discipline, and once settled on the configuration within the frame, he applies paint backwards, starting with the surface of the image, which is viewed from the other side of the acrylic, working towards the background. In a right-brain, left-brain switcharoo, this inversion of the logical painting process makes for very conscious and hyper-sensitive renderings of the plants in question, and somewhat unusually, the weeds and the flyaway branches are the focus of the painterly gaze, rather than the prized blooms of traditional still life scenes.”

Mark Hislop completed a Master of Art at Chelsea School of Art and Design, London, as a recipient of a Samstag International Visual Art Scholarship. He has been awarded grants from the Australia Council for the Arts and was awarded the Helsinki Studio Residency in 2016. His work has been selected for the Rick Amor Drawing Prize, Adelaide Perry Drawing Prize, Paul Guest Prize, Dobell Prize for Drawing, National Works on Paper Award and, most recently, The Arthur Guy Memorial Painting Prize.

Watch: Mark Hislop in his studio

available works

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Recent News

2024: Melbourne Art Fair

2024: Bayside Painting Prize, Finalist

2023: Spring1883 Art Fair, Melbourne

2021: The Arthur Guy Memorial Painting Prize, Finalist; Explore Sydney Contemporary

2020: Mosman Art Prize, Finalist

2019: Hazelhurst Art on Paper Award, Finalist

2019: Cross Art Projects, ‘The Essayist’

2018: National Works on Paper Prize, Finalist, Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery

2016: National Works on Paper Prize, Finalist, Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery