The previous passage drew my attention to the almost primal important of leather in the lives of humans. Man has turned to animal skins throughout history, yet when this is propery considered, it becomes clear just how brutal such an act truly is. Slaughtering creatures and dressing in theit skin for protection seems fitting for an ancient time, yet not this modern age. Keeping this in mind, I began to search for artists who use leather to interesting effect, and found 'microsculptor' Mark Evans. His technique struck me for the brutal use of knife of leather, yet the care and precision at which he does so.
'My granddad gave me my first knife when I was seven, I used it to carve images into bark of trees around the farm. then in 1995 I left wales to study fine art in london, it was pre-millennium and there was a digital revolution in the air, the YBA had exploded onto the british art scene, I was told by my professor that ‘painting is dead’ – all this was going on around me, but I couldn’t shake my childhood primal desire to play with knives.
'Then five years later, in the winter of 2000, just after the turn of the millennium I was trying to clean a blood stain off a new leather jacket I had just been given that christmas. I scratched through the blood into the surface of the jacket, right into the suede or the ‘nap’. that tiny etched patch of contrast in the leather suddenly became my own archimedes ‘eureka’ moment, as if an explosion went off in my mind. I saw a world of possibilities. I locked myself away in a garage for the next few years and focused on developing this new technique. I was living as part artist & part mad-scientist trying to perfect the process that I’d accidentally discovered. that blood stained jacket was the spark that led to my first ever leather etching.
'It’s micro sculpture within a tenth of a millimeter, and I’m an obsessive perfectionist about it. full blown OCD. I have spent hundreds of thousands of hours slicing, etching, making tiny meticulous marks with scalpels. it’s an obsession with me that bleeds into all areas of my life. I need my studio ordered and tidy. my knives all need to be neatly lined up. my studio has to be cleaned every week. I need symmetry, balance, and order or I cannot think.'
Interesting that Evans too references this 'PRIMAL' element to leatherwork -image avove, 'FURIOUS EARTH by Mark Evans 2012
© Katie Eilidh MacDonald Paul, all rights reserved