Dan Gebski interviews Mark Revels

A work of art is a scream of freedom” – Christo, Bulgarian artist

Mark Revels
Mark Revels

My next is Hero is amazing person who brings to our lives loads of fun and positive energy. He is a very talented and gifted artist. Let me introduce you to my good friend Mark Revels.

DG: What would you say about yourself in a few words? What do you love yourself the most for?

MR: I would have an optimistic outlook on life, with a touch of realist in me. I love the Quote “ a pessimist looks for the difficultly in every opportunity, whereas the Optimist looks for the opportunity in every difficulty”. I would have to say I do love to make people laugh, laughter really is the best medicine, it can resolve the simplest of conflicts as well as shine light into the darkest of corners in our minds. Laughter is needed even more so in our current climate. So, stay safe people, wash your hands and keep laughing ☺

DG: Can you tell me about your very first job

MR: My first memories of work were working in the fields gathering potatoes with my family. It was extra money that would help us through the winter months. I believe I was around 8yrs old. I had the best time ever, felt so grown up and helpful…..but also had great fun throwing potatoes amongst the other kids on the field. My next Job after that was working on a travelling fun fair that was travelling all round Ireland, visiting all the various festivals & fairs, so technically I ran away with the Circus ,with my parents permission of course.I was 13yrs old! It was a great experience and I learnt so much as well as getting the bug for travelling for work.

DG: As the situation is very unsettled at the moment due to turbulent times, internet seems to be the main form of communication. I have seen that you are taking part in some online projects involving youth.Could you tell me more about it please? Also how come you started work for Sticky Fingers in Newry?

MR: Yes, times are very strange and uncharted currently. Thankfully we are all learning new ways of working and online seems to be the best form of communication during this worldwide crisis. As a freelance artist and Sculptor, with work commitments locally, nationally and internationally I’ve had to learn how to evolve with changing times and have taken to online workshops and virtual meetings.

As well as that I have another role working within a team of wonderful artists at Sticky Fingers Arts in Newry. Sticky Fingers Arts is an Arts Centre that is dedicated to children and is the only one of its kind in Northern Ireland. Due to the restrictions currently in place we have had to move a lot of our programmes online and during the first initial lock down, we collaborated as a team to create daily workshops, with a list of what is needed, that could be done at home. The workshops were a great success and went viral as they were accessed worldwide, as many of my global contacts would follow me on social media, the workshops were accessed in Japan, Ukraine, China, Brazil, across many USA states and many European countries to name a few.

I started working with Sticky Fingers back in 2019 and since then have been part of so many successful projects and programmes that not only encourage positive interactions with early years children using creative forms, but have been humbled by the projects that we roll out amongst our ageing community as well as those projects that deal with social isolation, exclusion as well as those that promote good relations across the whole spectrum of society.

DG: Mark you have participated together with myself and a few of our friends in an interesting project last year called "Addressing Community Tension” with Newry, Mourne and Down Council. Do you think there is a need to continue this type of work that would emphasize necessity of socialization in our community? Shall we continue it online at this time?

MR: I absolutely believe we should continue with this project as during the brief time we had on the project, before a nationwide lockdown occurred, we had identified so many issues that were impacting on the local community of Newry and its rural neighbours. New issues will have arisen after the lock down due to the extended periods of isolating and the separation of the various sectors of the community. I believe it will be vital to keep this project running and a move online to complete it would be an advisable and smart thing to do.

DG: "I love freedom, I understand freedom and I can’t give it up” – these are the words of a famous Polish song. What does freedom means to you?

MR: Wonderful Quote!! Freedom to me comes in two parts : To be able to express oneself creatively and emotionally without prejudice, secondly I believe the freedom to move geographically, without borders should be something we shouldn’t  have to debate with every new generation. The creation of the European Union post WW2 definitely helped with this freedom I speak of.

DG: I have seen loads of your arts and we all know there is idea of an art which carries a message. What message you want to pass to the recipients of your art work? And what project are you proud of the most?

MR: Art is a very subjective thing to each individual, my work is mainly issue based and I like to use my creativity and abilities to create works that in turn create a platform for people or the viewer to stop, think and debate the possible issue raised in the art work.

One project that I am most proud of was an installation I worked on with my sculpture partner, Brendan Jamison, In Kyiv in Ukraine. It was constructed of paper and wire and was suspended from the ceiling where it cascaded down to the floor  where it splayed out to create a waterfall of bright yellow paper. The piece was made of over 10 thousand rolls of paper which was a memorial to all those Ukrainian lives that had been lost to the various Russian insurgences over the past 10 years. The piece was received very well and caused a media storm due to the sensitive nature of the work. We were honoured and humbled to be visited by so many friends and relatives of those men and woman who lost their lives of which this piece of work paid homage to. They thanked us for our sensitivity towards their loss and for bringing to light the ongoing war between the two nations.

DG: If you’d have a power to change one thing in recent world, what would you change? Especially in N.Ireland?

Mark chilling in the summer sunshine.

MR: I would change our political system here as the current Consociationalism system in place does no longer work. This kind of political model of governing was only set up as a temporary solution and should be replaced by a more stable and longer lasting model for governing. I also would like see change on how politicians who break and flout the law are dealt with.

On a lighter note I would like to see the continued kindness and concern that poured out from people all over the world during the lock down and not a return to the status quo where we are more concerned about our own materialistic and vested interests whilst our neighbours go without.

DG: What are your future plans for 2021 and future projects?

MR: I have many projects in the pipeline for 2021 and am hoping to travel internationally to complete some of them. So watch this space

Thank you Mark for the great interview and wish you good health and all the best in the future. Dan

MR: Many thanks Dan, it was a pleasure to be asked to be part of your fantastic project. Good luck with it, stay safe and hope to see you soon. Mark


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