Venue: Yorkshire Museum, York
Date: 7th March – 6th May 2013
Having just finished his solo exhibition Birds & Beasts at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in February, Mark Hearld’s latest exhibition can be found in the heart of York City at the Yorkshire Museum. Mark Hearld: A First Book of Nature showcases a selection of illustrations from Nicola Davis’ ‘A First Book of Nature’ around a small exhibition space.
Although Mark Hearld might not be widely known, his mix-media and illustrations have a charming and enduring quality. Composed of over 30 pieces of artwork from Davis’ book, Mark Hearld: A First Book of Nature provides a modest selection of some of Hearld’s finest artworks.
Published in 2012, ‘A First Book of Nature’ evokes a child’s first experience of nature. Combining anecdotes, poetry, recipes, and facts with illustrations, this book is a delicate and beautiful reminder of the world around us. Mark Hearld: A First Book of Nature brings the images and text from the page out into the open space, creating a delightful synthesis for the senses. Displaying a few of the illustrations alongside with Nicola Davis’ text, this is a modest and enchanting exhibition.
Recognised for his mix-media collages and brightly coloured prints, this exhibition explores the cyclical seasonal changes and how these transformations are engaged by animals and people. Influenced by the world around him, Hearld’s main interests lie within landscape, plants, and animals, which can be clearly seen throughout this exhibition: depictions vary from cold winter nights, where foxes track the snow covered fields, to delightful scenes of lambs frolicking in the spring.
Hearld’s intricate and visually stimulating illustrations engages with various forms of media. Through the use of collaging, Hearld creates movement and a graphic quality to his work intensified by vibrant colours. Hearld has been able to capture inspiration of landscapes and nature through the multi-media form and plays off the tension between the different mediums.
Yorkshire Museum’s website included taxidermy, illustrations, prints, drawings, and ceramics from the York Art Gallery’s collections – however, these were not to be found. What would have been an interesting juxtaposition did not hinder my experience of the exhibition. In fact, the absence of such named items made the exhibition even more endearing to me as they might have taken the focus away from the artworks displayed.
Mark Hearld: A First Book of Nature provides the viewer with the opportunity to observe illustration work at its finest. Showcasing a wide range of media, Hearld works with collage, printing, paper-cutting, watercolours and lithograph to create attractive and exquisitely coloured pieces of artwork. Moving away from the traditional forms of medium, such as oil and acrylic, Mark Hearld: A First Book of Nature allows the viewer to enter into a world where the unconventional and simple are often better.
It seems a pity that this exhibition has not been as well publicised as it could have been, as it offers visually stimulating and vibrant artworks proving that such illustrations can open the door to the world around us no matter what our age. Each artwork having its own story, I found this exhibition extremely engaging and enjoyable (as did my Mum!). Both art fans and children will enjoy this exhibition.