Mark Davies talks about his latest collection 'Lost In Hollywood 4'
Mark Davies provides a fascinating insight into his last collection 'Lost In Hollywood 4'...
As with ‘Lost in Hollywood 3’, this fourth instalment was predominately planned and created during the Covid-19 restrictions. The most difficult part of that being the uncertainty as we moved in and out of lockdown and the changes that came about, not knowing if we could confidently and safely curate launch shows as well as all of the emotional upset and imbalance that existed.
However, what this has further reinforced to me personally is just how important and vital my art is as a form of escapism from everything else. Amongst all of the uncertainty and unknown it is my art and the process of conceiving and creating it that remains a constant. The same level of attention to detail, if not more with each collection, the meticulous planning of the promotion, the commitment to engage with my collectors that I have been unable to meet in person at events, I’ve even got used to sticking my face in front of a bloody camera!
Yet as a genuine artist your mind shouldn’t be focused on personal gain or growing one’s ego, it should be dedicated to those who invest both personally and financially into what you create. I can hold my head up high and say that this has, and always will be the case for me but what the pandemic has amplified is just how many people need that escapism too. Every piece sold is for a different reason, every piece viewed stirs a different memory and every single collector helps to make me a better artist.
Lost in Hollywood 4 has allowed me to further re-connect with my childhood memories and I love how much fun it has been to tease and suggest at what is to come with this new body of work. I am incredibly proud of the end result. I hope this collection brings a lot of happiness to a lot of people because you bloody deserve it.
Bustin’ Ghosts (Ghostbusters)
Nothing like a bit of pressure is there! My previous Ghostbusters piece ’Saving The Day’ sold out, which was the perfect result following on from my very first piece ‘Who You Gonna Call Now?’ that was so popular back in 2016.
It is all about timing, with the imminent release of the new Ghostbusters movie ‘Afterlife’ (which looks absolutely incredible and true to the narrative and spirit of the franchise), ‘Lost In Hollywood 4’ is the perfect platform to bring ‘Bustin’ Ghosts’ to life!
’Saving The Day’ signalled a move towards a much more blatant interpretation of the film for me with the introduction of ‘Stay Puft’ and ECTO-1 shown in its full glory and the reaction speaks volumes. Throughout the past year the piece has featured in the backdrop to several high-profile personalities online and on TV which has led to some exciting things as well as giving me such amazing positivity that I will always value and embrace. I have had so much interaction with collectors and Ghostbusters fans with suggestions towards this new piece and I have certainly added them within this crazy scene that you now see.
Throughout my ’Storyteller’ works I have loved featuring grand old buildings that are starting to blacken and burn and there was always only one route for this new piece and that was to focus on the Museum of Art as it is overwhelmed by the pink stuff! The movie itself shows the building completely covered by slime, but whilst working on the artwork I was concerned that it would lose the impact and detail of the building. So, what you see is the point where the Museum is close to being swamped, with fires raging from upstairs windows and ghosts circling. I have gone with the much-overlooked ECTO-1A as the lead car, parked centrally as the Ghostbusters have torn into the building to wage war with evil! As soon as that car goes into the scene the whole piece changes, it’s just so bloody cool!
Another huge moment from the film and perfectly suiting the craziness of the era is when the Statue of Liberty rocks up to the party and she is a key part of this piece, whilst also not being too dominant. What I love, and I hope you do too, is that despite how blatant and 'in your face’ this image is, it still retains the qualities of my earlier works where you can’t quite see what is going on in the places that matter. This leaves you to decide what is happening within the Museum, has the key person evaded their trap?! Speaking of my earlier works, I remember a time when creating a blackened sky was a no no, well take a bloody look at this one! There is so much intensity and drama from above as the energy builds and the city of New York is threatened!
You know how I love my colours, and I’ve gone to town here! The pinks against the blues are so incredibly vivid and perfect for the era that it was set. ‘Slimer’ was well hidden in ’Saving The Day’ (did you ever spot him?), but he is coming right at you in this one! What a brilliant character! A later addition to the piece was the introduction of the Titanic and I absolutely love how it has turned out and the qualities that it brings to an already rammed piece. You’ll remember from the film that the line ‘better late than never’ featured as the ghost ship finally docked, how creepy was that scene?! I didn’t feel that it suited this piece, so I have switched it and what we see is her sailing majestically past with her lights further adding to the beautiful colours above. I just love it, there has been plans for a Titanic inspired piece for years, this isn’t it, but it shows the potential!
I have absolutely loved working on this piece, the memories that Ghostbusters stirs up is so strong and so needed. I am often asked what is my favourite film as a kid, I used to say that I had several. But from working on these 3 pieces over the past 5 years and the intensity of the childhood memories that explode every time, I can confidently say that Ghostbusters is my all-time favourite and judging from the reaction since day one it appears I am not alone. No individual owns the 80’s but I own and need my memories and I love the fact that I have an ability to share these with you and to create so much joy to so many. Thankyou.
Strength and Honour (Gladiator)
Gladiator is one of my all-time favourite movies, it is just a truly spectacular film! It has been on the list to do right back since 2016. I always had in my head that it would be a silhouetted character rising up from the colosseum, surrounded by olive trees that were breaking through the crumbling stones, a very spiritual piece. There was an image that I did a good number of years back entitled ‘Now you’re free’ that many would never have associated with the movie, and it was great that the collector who bought it, did so for the sentiment. The sense of finally being set free from restrictions, a female figure made entirely from butterflies, walking through the fields towards a house set within the Tuscan countryside. It had a very similar concept but done in a totally different way.
For ‘Strength & Honour’, this was a chance to do something much more blatant towards the movie’s aesthetics. The original plan was to make it much more dramatic, with raging lions and battles but what you now see is how my mind works, how I interpret a subject from a spark that resonates within the narrative of the film and how I find a connection. I guess that is what makes me so different to another with a similar skillset who will take the piece in a different direction. It is the mind that makes it.
Again, it all comes back to this sense of being set free from restriction, from being kept away from your family, being enslaved, forced to fight for what you do and don’t believe in. Maximus’s battles are all laid out before you before ultimately being set free, albeit through his death. It was the part of the film that really struck a chord, amplified by the haunting soundtrack. Music has always played a key role in my work; I remember years back trying to find the particular songs were and that was the days before ‘Spotify’ where everything is now ‘on tap’. It was great to listen to the same songs on repeat, immediately after watching the movie and throughout creating what you now see. Without doubt, it amplifies everything that I strived to inject into this scene.
What you see is Maximus’s journey from start to finish, with all the details from his battles displayed. A crumbling, broken amphitheatre opens out to reveal his family home beneath the beauty of the Tuscan landscape. A truly beautiful scene, the lighting is stunning, the colours are beautiful, I absolutely love it! Probably the most wonderful detail is the three white horses that gallop into view. These represent Maximus, his wife and his son who are now reunited in the afterlife and free to roam. It is a classic example of how details are born during creating a piece from being completely immersed in the emotion of what you are building. I love the concept that if you are stood there looking at this scene a split second before or after you would have missed such an incredible sight. It injects a quality of movement against the static, contrasting against the objects laid out on the ground, even down to the tiger just stood and staring rather than looking menacing. This huge animal has no battles left to fight; it is one of my favourite parts of the piece.
I absolutely love how it has come together, I love the Bougainvillea flowers that creep into view, a plant that reminds me of Menorca and one that I still grow in my studio, just! The fallen rose petals link to the final fight scene of the movie, falling through the sky adds to the sense of movement before coming to rest. There are so many subtle, beautiful details in this image. It is one that you really need to stand there in front of it, to embrace the spirit of the movie and the underlying meaning that I believe will resonate with many for many a different reason. I guess I am realising that even more now that so many people collect my work for the sentiment that the piece embodies rather than just the love for the movie itself.
As soon as I hung the original work on the wall for photographing, I knew I was going to really miss it and I do, I bloody miss it! It is an incredibly powerful image that I have loved every minute of being involved with and I am so proud of what this piece represents.
Join Me (Return Of the Jedi)
‘Join Me’ is a piece inspired by ‘Return Of the Jedi’ and the iconic fight scene between Vader and Luke and engineered by the Emperor. You can’t mess around with ‘Star Wars’, the pieces that I have done are becoming much more ‘blatant’ and each has its own quality but for this one I wanted to have fun. It’s such an incredible movie! There are amazing memories of ‘Star Wars’ growing up in the 80’s, I never pretend to be a die-hard, obsessive fan but these are memories that I hold and that make me smile, they are part of my childhood. My ability and skillset allow me to be able to take something that so many know and love and amplify it, making it even more spectacular and that is exactly what I have done.
It is dominated by the Emperors’ throne and the room around it, looking out to space. It was initially going to be a full-on space scene and that will still happen but with the move to adding characters into the scene it just suited what you now see. I wanted to test myself technically, so the room and window that you see have all been created from scratch, it isn’t something that exists, it is my interpretation of what we know. It took an absolute age to create but it gives so much satisfaction to see it finished.
There are battles raging on in the distance, everything is amplified and more dramatic than it was. The biggest pull for me was the battle between dark and light and the push to cross over from either side, it is perfect for how my mindset works. You can see how both Vader and Luke don’t want to be doing what they are doing but then the sinister stare and power of the Emperor is just so intense, god that face brings back memories! I always loved the Emperor’s guards as a kid, like I said, I was never one to collect every single figure, but I randomly remember the texture of their cloaks. Funny how things stick!
It all centres around the angles of the room as it all points towards the central dominant, controlling force of the Emperor who manipulates but ultimately who fails. There are some special details within the scene, it’s not a piece that I wanted to bugger around with, it must be done with respect. I will leave you to spot the subtle touches, but it was all about making everything more dramatic, more fire, more explosions, more electricity, more fun.
I loved every minute of working on this and I hope I have done it justice and it serves you well.
Vendetta (The Godfather)
This is a piece that just makes you laugh when you stand back and look at what you’ve created. It is just so bloody cool, it had to be! The Godfather is so incredibly powerful, visually, and conceptually so you can so easily miss the mark with it. I had previously created a ‘Corleone’ piece that was his side profile made from smoke which is one to seek out if you aren’t familiar with it. However, the past couple of ‘Lost in Hollywood’ collections have featured iconic gangster pieces so the time was right to create an intense scene piece for my collectors.
The end result is so different to what I thought it would be, originally it was going to be a gritty street scene where the Don was shot whilst shopping for oranges. Then it was going to be the toll booth scene but from watching the movie again with a fresh pair of eyes it was the intensity of his office that struck a chord with me and fuelled my imagination. Everything revolved around the office, where deals were made, vendettas planned and how you then see the actions come from it. It is such a dark room yet so rich is detail, warmth, and innocence.
The office was built completely from scratch and that alone makes it an incredibly cool and rich image and didn’t need the central character, yet when he was introduced, it took the piece to a completely different level. The power that resonates from him is insane! I’ve not tried to put a different narrative to this piece out of respect for the movie but instead I wanted to really test myself technically, after all that is what it is about as an artist - the want to improve and grow.
There are details within the scene that didn’t need to go in but that I wanted to do something that was incredibly challenging. Look at the fish tank! In the movie it is tiny and subtle yet hearing the line ‘sleep with the fishes’ and how sinister that is, gave me a thought of giving it much more presence. From that you see the semi-transparent view through to where the Don is sitting, it all turned out so well and gives me that ‘puff your bloody chest out’ feeling.
Other subtle details that may be random, but the technical aspect is right up there. For example, the blood orange that is literally spilling blood or Don Corleone’s face merged into the markings on the ill-fated horse’s head. There is so much in there to spot, it is a pure celebration of an incredible movie. It is so dark, so bloody toxic yet coupled with this beautiful lighting that radiates inwards through the iconic shutters.
A detail that appealed was how he was being betrayed from within and this is depicted by the desk that smoulders and the thorns that twist through the floor and the wood. I love how oranges symbolise imminent death and I have amplified that through the orange tree that has grown through the foundations as the wolves start to circle. There is so much in this piece that the die-hard fans of the movie will love seeking out and interpreting and I hope I have made you a piece that you can’t refuse! Take the piece, leave the Cannoli!
Keep Moving Forward (Rocky)
This is the third instalment of the Rocky series that I have created since I released ‘BALBOA’ back in 2016 which was the first time that I demonstrated a style that is now easily identifiable as my work with the figure being made from smoke. 2019 saw ‘One More Round’ released, a gritty scene piece that was driven by an underlying narrative. So, for 2021 I have changed it again and captured the dramatic, and much-loved fight scene between Rocky and Drago using a style that differs again.
If you look very closely, not ideal on a screen but you will spot that the figures are made from tiny dots that radiate outwards. It is an effect that was actually born way back from some earlier graphics work when creating a boxing equipment brand and its marketing imagery, so I love how I have been able to reignite and reintroduce here. It is all about the movement and the emotion as the two battle it out. These tiny dots amplify the drama, they represent the sweat from the muscles, the blood spraying from Drago’s mouth as Rocky lands a massive hit. Supporting this is my abstract ‘push and pull’ style that so many love, soft tones that are hardened by cracked textures and painted overlays.
It is such an incredible movie that represents so much positivity in general, what I love is that although the fight scene is so iconic, you don’t seem to see it depicted in art form. It is the perfect scene to showcase my way of working. It is so vibrant; I love how the gold works with the red against the deep blues. There are subtle references to other pieces that I have done previously, ‘BALBOA’ in its billboard form, there is another piece from the same movie that has been created in a similar style that is integrated into the background along with the brilliant ‘Clubber Lang’!
The closer you get to it, the more energy that radiates out from it, it is a style that I love and one that I feel that I have made my own. It is the call to keep moving forward no matter what and the sense of being unbreakable that radiates so strongly with so many people even outside of the boxing scene. It’s the underlying sentiment that people buy into, and I guess has played a big part in making the Rocky pieces that I have created so popular and so successful.
‘I must break you’ - no chance!
Free Spirit (Breakfast at Tiffany’s)
I have wanted to do ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s for an age. With each movie collection I always strive to create a piece that is pretty and beautiful to contrast with others that are much more dramatic and intense visually. With the 50th anniversary of the movie falling this year it was the perfect opportunity. What you see is very different for me, which is a good thing. There has been a move towards the introduction of characters when the piece warrants it and rather than seeing a scene that is absolutely littered with detail, I wanted to make it all about the character, Holly.
I wanted to portray her as she was, rather than how she wasn’t as it suits my work and is authentic to my way of thinking. Without a genuine connection or reason there is always a risk of the image becoming hollow. The details that do exist help to tell the narrative but in a much more simplistic way that results in a much more powerful and poignant image. It’s called ‘Free Spirit’ based on Holly’s wish to not be caged but being told she puts herself in her own cage. It is her wish to be set free, she is such a complex character, high maintenance, but adorable and innocent. This sense of being trapped and needing to be set free is a concept that has ran through my work since day one, an emotion that is driven through personal emotions and one that resonates with so many.
This is a classic example of how, when planning this piece, you end up doing something so completely different to what you thought you would do all that time ago, and I love that. It is that pull that takes hold, resonates, and takes you off on a much more honest direction. What you see is everything laid out around her, the open bird cage with the dove rising upwards that is beautiful. In contrast you have the blackened thorns and withering roses that are twisting around the cage and the foot of her stool. It’s a very dark element that builds on the concept of needing to be set free from the negatives and darkness and it is this detail against such an iconic image that makes it mine and authentic.
It is all about freedom and restriction. The piece features butterflies and birds that represent freedom and transition, expression, and the ability to spread one’s wings. I absolutely love her expression, so innocent, confident yet fragile. There is a personal connection to this film that makes it authentic. Audrey Hepburn was born in Ixelles - Belgium, my Grandmother, Mary was born in Ypres and met my Grandad, Geoff whilst he was a soldier in the second World War as he came into her Parent’s cake shop. After the war, my Mother, Anne-Marie was born in Ypres before they headed to England to start a new life which, given the circumstances must have been daunting and challenging to say the least. My wonderful Grandma was heavily restricted in her later years and my Mother has been incredibly restricted due to my Dad’s condition - so what this piece symbolises is absolutely massive.
Toxicity (Suicide Squad)
This piece follows on from my 2020 Joker piece ‘Smile’ that was set within the Arkham Asylum. I wanted to do something as equally dark, it is really intense! What you see focuses on the relationship between Harley Quinn and the Joker and how incredibly toxic it is. It conveys how completely intoxicated and infatuated she is and under his spell and unable to see the wrongs from their relationship and being unable to truly break away from it. It focuses on how someone can have such a hold over you where you will literally sacrifice everything and do anything for them, whether that is quality of life, state of mind or self-worth.
It runs true to the narrative of the film, but it really builds on this sense of toxicity within a relationship that feature in past pieces such as ‘The Wolf Within’, very dark and real. Yet, I didn’t want it to become too conceptual, as with the ‘Smile’ piece, it has an underlying narrative, but it is a celebration of what the movie’s fans would love but done in my way.
This scene is complete on fire, everything burns and is about to explode and implode. As with ‘Smile’, there are two main characters to enjoy. Harley is breaking away, she screams fight, inner strength, and power! Yet the impact of the Joker’ stood central is massive, sinister and controlling. The piece would have been a cracker without him there as Harley is literally strong enough on her own, but he just reinforces the fact that he still lives on in her mind. Her memories of their relationship exist within the factory buildings, the moment when they first met when she was his Psychiatrist is beautiful and contrasting.
I love how you then see them move in for a kiss. In contrast there’s the powerful moment when the Joker jumps in to pull her out from the acid bath after she almost paid the ultimate sacrifice for his love. These semi-translucent memories that we see and that she sees represent just how no matter how toxic and destructive a relationship can be, these innocent memories that flood your mind won’t fade as quickly as a bruised arm or heart but that ultimately will hold you back.
Ultimately it is a positive image, she is basically saying ‘fuck this, you have no power over me, you don’t own me’. You know what I’m like, I always try to get a car into a scene where possible! I love it! The other characters are depicted in various ways amongst the scene. I have had such fun creating something that is so angry but so positive and I hope through my own interpretation that I have given something unique to the fans of the movie.