These coastal and river scenes were created using found driftwood painted with melted beeswax infused with oil paints. The beeswax is from the artist’s own hives and the landscapes are ones he knows well. This series captures the joy of solitary beach walks on two very different shores – isolated Tangimoana beach in the lower North Island and the ever popular Nelson tourist beach Tauhunanui, at the top of New Zealand’s South Island.
Long sea weathered planks are retrieved from the beach. They are marked, scarred, worn by waves and aged by sand and wind. They bear witness to their own journeys – trees that once held inland soils have been harvested, pressed into the service of mankind and then eventually the structure they were part of has been swept away by tide, flood or erosion to be buried in sand where it weathers and whitens. Mark’s old red truck is loaded up with this found wood and back at the studio selected planks are shaken and brushed free of sand before being wax sealed. This preserves the wood and seals in their markings. He then paints the long horizons of the coast from where these thin weathered “wooden canvases” have been surrendered by the sea.
Nelson beaches are alive with people – wind and kite surfers and sunbathers whereas the north island west coast is an endless stretch of nothingness where dotterel chicks cheep undisturbed and driftwood piles create dunes of their own. In Mark’s youth Nelson’s Tahunanui back beach was as isolated as the least favoured haunts of the Taranaki Bight are today – thus the series represents its own journey for a beach walker who loves to dip his toes in an ebbing tide.