Mark Vessey is an artist who has made his name photographing collections! Often filled with nostalgia, he tends to print them big. Statement pieces that draw attention to the subject matter. These are collections with meaning, each telling their own story. the contents of the image often battered with age and worn to the years.
His latest piece features the work of Norman Cook. Better known to some as Fat Boy Slim he is a Brighton local and the subject of Vessey’s latest work. Now released as a limited edition large scale image at the town’s Art Republic Gallery. It features a selection of records from Cook’s collection. Record’s which have meant something to him throughout the building of his music career.
The two have worked together over the past few months to whittle the final selection down. Making the cut and the final edit wasn’t easy. Cook’s collection is vast, as are his inspirations. Getting to the stage where the records were in the final image takes patience. This isn’t just about a photograph after all. This is story telling and it’s telling the story of someone steeped in musical lore. “It’s amazing how you do these pieces and it leads you to experiences and stories that you just don’t know until you’ve put the work out there” he tells me.
Vessey’s studio is in Brighton and that’s where we are meeting. A short walk away is the beach and nearby the area is buzzing with life. From Chingford originally, it’s a far cry culturally from the place where he was brought up. He talks to me about needing to leave in order to find himself. After a few false starts, Brighton is where he ended up and this is where he now calls home.
It was Mark’s collection of Attitude magazines which kick started his work photographing collections. Influential from an early age, the magazines he collected became a source of pride and he would showcase them proudly on shelves in his room . Associating the magazines with events from his past, their existence became nostalgic in later years.
Other collections I notice hanging in his studio. An image of his dad’s friends pile of Playboy magazines hangs next to a series of old David Bowie records from the 70’s and 80’s. Then opposite where I am sitting sits a different type of collection, an image of old absolute vodka bottles photographed from above. “That was a really important piece for me” he says referring to the latter piece. “It shifted again my work to a new place, a new way of working that fitted in very much with how I see my own work.”
Pop culture too is at the heart of a lot of where Vessey’s influences lay. The reminiscences of the past captured in his work are matched with some of the other art he chooses to have on his walls. Chicken soup cans from one of our favourites Lucy Sparrow hang boxed up on the kitchen wall. From the Cornershop exhibition, which we covered at the time, that work too harked back to a more nostalgic time.
“I guess as much as it’s exciting, it’s scary at the same time” he tells me of his latest piece. Working with Norman has been a true collaboration. Together shaping and crafting the final image and its contents. One things for sure, it’s another hit for Cook. The artist who, by all accounts, holds the record for having the most hits under different names. This time of course it’s a hit of a different nature. An art hit and not bad to hang on the wall either.
Mark Vessey was interviewed at his home in Brighton on 18 November 2018 for the ‘Art Related Nonsense‘ podcast. His new work ‘Norman’ was released at the Art Republic Gallery in Brighton on 28 November 2018. Photographs of artwork in this article are courtesy of Mark Vessey.