Mark Chapman

I grew up in the small mining town of Stilfontein. After 2 years military service, I went on
to study graphic design. After 6 months of being told what and how to draw or paint, I
decided it’s not for me. I had always loved art, so my dream was ended.

As the studies were done, and living in a mining community, I went on to become a
production foreman on a gold mine. 24 years later, I decided that it’s time to move on. I
then moved to Johannesburg and got involved in my partner’s domestic training company.
From mining to housekeeping.

It was whilst here that a potter friend gave me a bag of clay to play with. I tinkered a bit,
went for some basic lessons, learnt basic glazing techniques and started sculpting.

The same potter friend then suggested I start making some functional things. This lead
me to doing production work, making individualized salt and pepper sets. As fun and
funky as they were, production work was soul destroying. I stopped doing the market
scene and left the city for the country.

After battling along in Napier, where I was sculpting again, I got a big break when I
crossed paths with Alex Hamilton, from Cape Town. He loved what he saw and the rest is
history. I had a foot in the door.

People ask me about my work and I’m not sure what they expect to hear. I have not s
tudied art, so I just work blindly and from the heart. The process is so simple at times, it
seems ridiculous. e.g….I start making a pair of boots, add legs, torso, arms and head.
now it gets interesting. Male or female. Shorts or long pants. Shirt, vest, jacket, coat or
no top. then comes the head. Hair or no hair. Facial expressions, goggles, headgear or…
wait… lets put on a gasmask.

So for me to tell anyone a deep story about most of my work would be disingenuous. I
very seldom start with a sketch and finish with a piece resembling the sketch. The piece
just grows and if I like where it’s going, then great.

This latest body of work reflects a concerted effort to break with my usual style. The
pieces have very little detail on them. They are in a way everything I don’t usually do.
They have to stand alone and make their own statement. The other more detailed work
is what I can get ”lost” in. The ability to just add and add is almost too easy. But at the
end of the day, the devil is in the detail. And with the new work the devil is not in the

I don’t worry too much about proportions as I find the wacky proportions can in
themselves create something interesting. My work has a fun/quirky feel and will
hopefully leave the viewer with a smile on their face.