Mark Davies releases Lost in Hollywood VHS & Billboard Collection
British artist Mark Davies revisits his hugely popular 'Lost In Hollywood' collection by transforming his work inspired by iconic movies into retro VHS cases and vintage billboard posters with a level of detail and production quality that is unparalleled. Release Date: Friday 7th May.
Mark Davies: ‘This project has been amazing to work on throughout, to see the end results come together with such an intense impact is particularly pleasing. The prerequisite was to lay down a significant amount of hand finished detailing, I wanted to create something truly special for collectors of my work that showcased my abilities as a mixed media artist, whilst also playing to my strengths by being able to draw on my earlier professional graphic design and copyrighting experience. To have the ability and freedom to release these as tiny, boutique editions make them even more special. I couldn’t be happier or prouder of these!’
Mark Davies on his Lost In Hollywood VHS & Billboard Collection...
‘BALBOA’ Billboard – Rocky
‘BALBOA’ was my first piece where I work with smoke detail to create a silhouetted character and I am so pleased by the results. Rather than the static and stark silhouettes that are typical I have strived to inject movement and depth into mine through using the smoke textures. I love how it flows, expanding and contracting to take the shape of the body.
The image of Rocky is so incredibly iconic and exists in so many variants, so I was keen on going at this in a different way. Through using the smoke-like textures to create the body it gives off this wonderful ghost-like quality that is perfect for my ‘Lost In Hollywood’ series where we consider the characters from the film that are left behind once the filming stops and the lights go out.
The USA flag has been depicted within the body through the red, white, and blue and the stars whilst hints of the cityscape form the background. I wanted to do something that was gritty where the smoke represents the downtown Philadelphia element whilst in contrast the stars and lighting signify the bright lights of the arena and the fame that Rocky found.
‘I Hope’ Billboard – The Shawshank Redemption
This piece is ultimately a gritty prison cell scene from within Shawshank State Penitentiary that features a good number of references to the movie plot which is dominated by the escape element but where this has been adapted to represent a more conceptual message that reaches out to a greater audience than just those who love the film itself.
Shawshank Redemption is such a powerful film, not just aesthetically but one that conveys such an enduring power of hope, perfect for my work and the message that I look to portray as often as possible. I have set about creating a scene that is at first study an engaging take on the plot, a window into Andy’s cell but through modifying the tunnel element to the piece it exposes a greater depth.
The tunnel is shallower yet no less dramatic, almost window-like. I have set the view through this window to show the iconic shoreline scene of Zihuatanejo - Mexico. This creates a more direct and blatant vision of where Andy hopes to be one day once free. To reinforce this, I have chosen to indicate that the hole in the wall was covered in fact by a simple picture of the same scene rather than of the poster from the movie that is torn down by the Governor. This creates a different take on the original narrative whilst more importantly reaches out to so many of us that have innocent aspirations, hopes and dreams.
The beach view could mean leaving their worries and their fears behind and creating a new life for themselves or it could simply represent a holiday. Both are of equal importance as a something deemed simpler could represent a much, much bigger challenge through restrictions such as money or other restrictive factors. Andy hoped to walk the sands of that beach from being wrongly incarcerated for close to 20 years and subjected to a terrifying ordeal, to another person it could represent their hope of one day being able to travel after being set free from the shackles of debt, cast over them from someone else’s doing, both represent good being restricted and caged, birds aren’t meant to be caged.
The image through the wall represents something different to everyone who has hope and fights to keep hold of it. Most often a task that appears huge and impenetrable can be chipped away at through time with something simple. The fact that the breakthrough was made with a tiny hammer is why I have placed the tool in the foreground, supporting its importance but reinforcing its size. On all levels it showcases the call to those have been dealt a bad card in life to not just accept it, to establish a way to win and to be free and to achieve ones’ dreams rather than giving up and accepting, to get busy living or get busy dying. The objects placed within the scene are a mix of actual objects that those who know and love the classic movie will recognise and some less obvious, more conceptual details that make you think.
Good has flown away, illustrated by the dove feathers whilst the bad remains only to look out in isolation, symbolised by the solitary black crow that is featured to represent the corrupt Governor who is left to peer through the hole in defeat. The browned falling oak leaves symbolise time escaping for Andy’s friend Red to gain freedom and set out to find what Andy had buried under that solitary oak tree. Andy was a lover of Chess, his time in prison and his plot to escape were a tactical battle, culminating in a masterstroke by the ‘Pawn’ in defeating the ‘King’, this is depicted subtly within the scene.
The other details I will leave for you to find and consider. I genuinely loved watching the Shawshank Redemption years ago, albeit back then more on face value, now, with way more life experience I embrace absolutely everything that it stands for and I hope that I have done justice to a true masterpiece.
Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.
‘I’ll Be Right Here’ Billboard (Colourful Language Edition) – E.T
This is such a brilliant film and a big part of my childhood and I have loved re-connecting with it to create my take on the Spielberg classic. I haven’t tried to change the narrative but simply put my stamp on it and make changes to key props that could so easily have happened simply by different bikes being available for example. The bond between E.T and Elliott was beautiful, god that thing was ugly but really easy to bond to, the fact that the boy had a broken family made it really special and the lovely line from E.T to Elliott promising ‘I’ll be right here’ had to be the title of the piece as it evokes that ‘no matter what’ quality, an unbreakable bond even if he did wobble off into a huge bloody space ship!
The film is 100% great throughout but for me the scene for this piece has to centre around the forest and the point where the bikers head to and the spaceship lands within the trees. I loved the lighting so felt right to embrace this with how I introduce light and ambience into my works. What I have done is to create a scene where it is up to you what is happening, where are the 5 boys that have left their bikes against the trees, is that spaceship landing or taking off? That is made even more poignant when you notice the orange glow from E.T that shines through the darkness, is he about to leave? Has he returned, is he choosing to evade not only those that chase him but the ship also? When you notice that he is there I would hope that it makes the piece even more enchanting and special.
I loved my Raleigh Grifter as a kid in the 80s, there seemed to be so many iconic bikes back then and I’ve chosen to embrace that with choosing a mix of great bikes that make up the 5 from the chase as they head to the forest with E.T swaddled in the basket. Elliott’s bike is at the front of the picture, with his name being a decal on the frame. Each bike is touched by magic that radiates from the ship which caused them to fly, a blue glow to mimic that in the film. Choosing a darkening forest, I wanted to create a rich ambience with car lights, torch lights as well as the presence of the ship and the glow that radiates from it, creating an ethereal quality so everything included made sense and had a purpose. I wanted to play on that sense of urgency and the chase, the desperation to evade those who want to undo the good and break that bond. The fact they were being chased and the fear the boys had is amplified within the forest whilst on the flip side it offers protection from the search lights both from the torches and the ship. I have left it open for you to decide what’s happening.
‘Why’d It Have To Be Snakes?’ Billboard – Indiana Jones
This piece has a three-fold narrative to it and was created to embrace everything that is great about the Indiana Jones films, the colour ways of the piece are there to reflect the movie branding as well as to help create a striking image on first look. Ultimately, the concept of this piece is to create a scene completely from scratch that epitomises the atmospheric scenes from the films, in this case a temple that opens to reveal a staircase that leads up to a landscape and scenario that we can’t quite see and isn’t clear as to whether what awaits is a beautiful sunset or an environment that burns. I wanted to create a sense of suspense, intrigue, and drama where you would be wary of what lies ahead, could the huge stone heads come to life, what hides within the twisted roots and is the sky actually on fire? The scene showcases a good number of iconic film references, some clearer than others, Indiana’s’ sword, hat and whip, his pistol are all there along with the golden idol, cherub from the Ark and the odd skull!
The secondary layer of narrative embraces the roll of good vs evil that plays out in so many of my pieces, beautiful lighting combines with black smoke and eerie shadows. The steps are key here, they represent the journey that one must make to overcome constraints and conquer their challenges and face their fears to reach that next stage. There is a sense of urgency in the piece, represented in the foreground where the ground is starting to fall away, exposing skeletons of the past. The journey is blocked by the snake to represent a significant obstacle that is there to stop you climbing up. The title of the piece was chosen to represent that acknowledgement that you need and want to start your journey but accept that your personal fears exist and will be there to confront and test you. The steps are flanked by candles, the left are all lit and there to guide your every step, the right are all blown out, signifying darkness, although 1 solitary flame burns there - representing the hope to see some good in the darkest of souls. The decision to move upwards and overcome the darkness has already started and is shown in the scene with the dove in flight watched by the solitary crow and the serpent. What lays ahead is unknown at this point.
Finally, the third layer is one that you might see straight off or go searching for clues (Archaeology) to clarify the inclusion of certain objects. What I have done is to create the composition of the scene so that it looks like you are watching the scene unfold from the front row of a movie theatre and that you’re so immersed in the movie that it becomes real, drawing you in to live the scene. The idea here is that it reaches out to people who find themselves in that position where they need to make changes for the better and set foot on that step. This movie concept is why there is a discarded drinks cup and popcorn within the scene, I wanted to add this layer so that it becomes a subtle nicety that evolves the piece from simply a cool landscape-based piece.
There are a lot of references within the piece and will leave you to find them, I had to place Indiana’s’ hat at the focal point of the piece, it would be wrong not to and with it teetering on the edge of falling only to be held by the weight of the pistol it adds to the drama and is an acknowledgement of when he comes so close to losing his hat, grabbing it at the last minute. Ultimately, I have striven to create something that challenged me technically and that is immersive and intriguing that will be embraced by fans of the movies and is as deep you want it to be.
‘F*CK OFF YOU GUUUYS!’ VHS (Colourful Language Edition) – The Goonies
'For me it had to be about capturing the atmosphere and magic within the cave and to show the ‘Inferno’ sailing out towards the open sea and focusing on things that are left behind in the cave. I have amplified the lighting and ambience of the cave opening to represent the ship and ghosts within being set free. Because of the nature of the ship itself and the secrets and mystery that it holds I have gone to town in creating that subtle intensity of the mist as she sets sail.
By creating a point of focus bottom left and just further back it hopefully gives the sense of insignificance that this incredible ship is moving at the back of the scene yet when you really study the Inferno it is pretty powerful. There’s always something lovely about a ship setting out on its’ journey and with the narrative behind this it makes it quite special. Because of the ship’s characteristics I have pushed to create an overall tone and calmness that is reminiscent of an old oil painting to do the ship justice, albeit with areas of vivid warm tones and light.
Waterfalls were a great feature within the cave from the film itself, so I have worked hard to create a series of waterfalls that really add to the sense of beauty within the cave and how they break the calm waters. The deep waters of the cave showcase things that lurk beneath, a deleted scene from the film featured a giant octopus and I have introduced one that is draped over an old oak barrel from the ship. Because the film is a classic adventure plot with kids as the lead having a huge ship, waterfalls and a whopper of an octopus play on that sense of wonder.
As this piece is set further away I wanted to focus more on the ambience of the piece rather than try and cover too much surface with film references however I did want to bring some key objects in so I created a rock in the foreground that breaks the surface and sits a number of key references from the film which have a magical quality to them, almost like pieces left behind.
‘Old Skin’ VHS – Silence Of The Lambs
'I had a good long look at potential directions for this piece and identified key scenes and settings from the film, such as the cage, the cell, Buffalo Bills’ house etc. but opposed them for the concern that they just wouldn’t look right on someone's living room wall. Anything else wouldn’t have been iconic enough to sit under the film title so I have chosen to focus on the Death Head Hawkmoth which is such a striking image and one that is clearly associated with the film, not just from the disturbing place that it is put by Bill but because it is dominating film posters and covers since the start.
For me, I have previously used moths and butterflies within both published and unpublished works as I love the transformation from one state to another and have always linked that to personal development that is linked to happiness and confidence. So, what I have done is tackle this piece by focusing on the killer Jame Gumb, Buffalo Bill. I have focused on the mind-set of the character and what is driving him to commit such horrific crimes in pursuit of his goals, clearly one messed up person but why?
I am a firm believer that people aren’t born bad, something must happen to take away the light and bring darkness in floods. This is clearly the case with Jame, abandoned by his mother — an alcoholic prostitute who misspelled “James” on his birth certificate — and then taken into foster care at two years old. The film’s screenplay implies that he had a traumatic childhood. In the movie, Lecter quotes “Billy was not born a criminal, but made one by years of systematic abuse.” His twisted pursuit to become a woman adds a fascinating layer to the plot and his character, killing obese women and using their skin to create a skin suit for him to wear is extreme to say the least./p>
The Hawkmoth definitely symbolises Gumbs’ determination to see his gender transition become real, blocked by the authorities for being too unstable he has resorted to his own methods. Skin becomes his canvas and make up and blood his paint and the sewing machine his glue. In his eyes he does no wrong, its’ an art form, a procedure, the scene with him dancing to ‘Goodbye Horses’ (which I've had on loop for a large part of creating this piece) is testament to his portrayed innocence.
What I love about the moth is the clear divide between the top and bottom halves, one being bright and warm whilst the other being dark and slightly uncomfortable. My interpretation adapts each half with detail that is an opposite to each so the perceived warm and bright half is breaking and combusting whilst the darker half is shrouded in beautiful light and warmth. This is to depict the reality that true feelings and characters are much greater and deep rooted than the depth of one’s skin, a person who wears make up and dances around a room is assigned the happy and carefree tag whilst someone who is cold, and dark is deemed to be troubled rather than lacking confidence and simply hasn’t shed their skin and transformed.
The detail now in place on the moth takes an iconic image and creates so much more detail and a sense of intrigue which I love, ultimately it is more beautiful for that, an image that symbolises someone's’ layers and troubles whist conveying a wonderful determination to fly. The image of a skull that is present on the head of the moth and that gives it such a sinister feel and link to death is a detail that drew me in, you might not notice at first but when you do it is all you see. What I have done is to replace this with the iconic Hannibal Lecter mask icon as there had to be a link to such a formidable character within this piece. I hope that I have achieved the same result by doing this, that you might not notice initially but once you do it is all you see.
The background had to be kept subtle so as to make the moth shine and ultimately to create a piece that is very different to others within the collection. However, I wanted to introduce detail that further expanded on Gumbs’ character and killings. As mentioned, skin was his canvas, pretty horrific to say the least. I have created a pinched seam around the perimeter of the background that has been stitched to resemble the killers’ skin suit but treated in a way that it wouldn’t deter people.
However, cracks have appeared, fault lines within his work, from these there is darkness escaping within the lower half to match the darkness on the moths’ lower section that focuses centrally on an area that rises up towards its’ lower body. If you look closely, you can see the male and female icons drawn onto the canvas - the male icon has devil horns scrawled onto it to represent his aim to be a woman. In contrast, the upper sections show beautiful warm light escaping from the cracks and radiating downwards to the moths’ eyes. We must pass through the darkness, to reach the light.
‘OUTATIME’ VHS – Back To The Future
In keeping with the theme of ‘Lost in Hollywood’ and creating scenes with the same objects but in an amplified scenario that could have been an alternative vision by the director, I have set this piece within an unused factory. The layered composition with two sets of doors and great depth allowed me to play on the perspective and distance, meaning I could create a tunnel detail which could simply be an escape route, or a more significant role should you go that way in your head. The layout of the detail that goes into the piece is done in a way that it channels your eye straight down the middle of the piece in line with the perspective of the room.
There isn’t a deep narrative that this piece relies on, I haven’t tried to be to too clever or go off at a tangent, in favour of just creating a piece that is really striking and that embraces everything that is in the film and what makes it great. Entitled ‘OUTATIME’ I have chosen a strong statement title that relates to what you see, a scene where the Doc is working on the DeLorean to get it ready in time to go. Objects are set out to show that Marty is there also. The branding for the film has always been vivid and I have embraced that with the colour ways of the tunnel and the glass bricks, this contrasts really well with the darkness of the front doors and also with the cool blue of the DeLorean lighting.
Because of the cult following of this film there is so much photographic reference material, so I have thrown everything into this piece to pay homage to such a great film. In terms of composition because I have put so much focus on the channels of the piece and the car and tunnel, I have kept the middle front area clean so as not to confuse, instead using fire detail reminiscent of when the car reached 88 and the road burned.
‘You’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat’ VHS – Jaws
'You’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat’ is my interpretation of Spielberg’s classic horror film’ Jaws’. I wanted to approach it in a completely different way, embracing the ‘two sides to every story’ viewpoint. The piece is portrait to allow me to create depth in the ocean and to run in line with the classic movie poster. It is a completely different perspective to what I have done before, as you look up towards the surface. The boat is based on the ‘ORCA’ from the film, I even looked at the original plan drawings of the model to gauge proportions and shape.
So what we have is a classic scene that is relating to the narrative where the boat is on the hunt for Jaws, with yellow barrels of explosives cast overboard. Trails of blood mix with water from their attempts to lure the shark in. Here is where I take it to a different place, through the use of beautiful lighting, colour, and detail I have made the bottom of the boat (the target) beautiful and intriguing to the shark, is it just intrigued and only able to communicate with its mouth?
A diesel spill runs downwards through the water creating another source of confusion and attraction to the shark. There is a rusted oil drum plummeting through the water just in front of the shark that has a subtle leak of toxics that escape and leave their mark.
So, at this point is it purely intrigue that lures it to the surface and to the source? There then resides a darker layer as you notice the shadowed shark circling the boat from underneath.
A subtle trail of blood infiltrates the water close by, suggesting something has been bitten or worse out of view. If you then look at the trail of diesel, there are a number of skeletal fish that swim amongst the toxic trail, killed by the shark, or killed by the real source of evil in the water? What is the actual stain on nature?
This angle then opens the question that exists where people strongly believe that sharks are misunderstood and antagonised by human actions, possibly for ones’ own benefit where lies and scaremongering exist. When you look at it from this angle then the items in the water such as the barrels etc aren’t to lure off the shark but are a representation of mans’ wrongdoing.