Mark Evans

I grew up on a farm in the Welsh Mountains, I enjoyed a wild boyhood around caves, rivers and forests, making mischief on the family farm. In the mid nineties I left Wales to study Fine Art at Middlesex University in London, and I never left. Now I live just outside London.

I’ve drawn since I was a boy. I was born with a pencil in one hand and a knife in the other. I didn’t want to leave the art rooms in school. I’d stay late into the evening after the teachers had gone home, and it was just me, the janitors & cleaners left in the school building. For years I was working in more conventional materials like charcoal, oils, acrylics, etc., but I couldn’t shake that more primal desire to play with knives. It didn’t start with leather — it all started with knives. My granddad gave me my first knife when I was seven, and I used it to carve images into tree bark. While my mates were all playing Atari, I was out rock climbing, carving my signature around the farm.

I’ve always loved wildness; I’m most alive when something’s at risk, so I was born with a love of knives, and my work is risky from the first incision to the last cut. Leather came later — around 15 years ago, in the winter of 2000, at the turn of the millennium. I was trying to clean a bloodstain off a new leather jacket I had just been given that Christmas.

That jacket was the spark that led to my first ever leather etching. By sheer accident, or God-given providence, I scratched through the blood into the surface of the jacket. That tiny etched patch of contrast in the leather suddenly flipped on the light bulb. It was my personal Archimedes “Eureka” moment; an explosion went off in my mind. I saw a world of possibilities, so I locked myself away for the next few years and just focused on developing this new art form. I was living as part artist & part mad-scientist trying to perfect the process that I’d accidentally discovered. I love leather. It’s ancient, yet ultra cool. Leather just gets better with age. I love the old masters, Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Lautrec, Degas, Van Gogh, Picasso. Big men working with big ideas, who weren’t afraid to take risks and break the rules. In the contemporary world I admire how Hirst & Koons have branded themselves and their art; they are marketing geniuses. Writing. I love the power of story. Story is one of the great truths we have left.