‘Ware and his collaborators aren’t fusing science and art so much as evolving an entirely new way of working.’ – New Scientist July 2016 

ART, STROKE, SCIENCE & THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT

Mark Ware MFA
Multimedia artist
Fulbright Scholar
Honorary Research Fellow, Brighton and Sussex Medical School
Associate Member, The Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research Staffordshire University
Founder and Co-Director of the Reflecting Nature in art & science charity (Registered Charity Number 1173281)

 

Mark Ware at Exeter Cathedral / Photo: Mark Ware

Mark Ware received a 1st class (hons) degree in Fine Art at Northumbria University, and a Master of Fine Arts at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His US studies were supported by a Fulbright Scholarship.  Mark has over 15 years’ experience as a professional video maker, stills photographer and marketing and promotion adviser, for which he’s received several prestigious industry awards.  He has been employed by government agencies and multinational corporations to work on a wide variety of projects ranging from encouraging UK inward investment, to the promotion of tourism.

During 1996 at the age of 39, he had a life-threatening stroke that brought an abrupt end to his commercial work.  Since that time, as his condition has stabilised, Mark has focused primarily on his Fine Art, regularly supported by Arts Council England.

Of his stroke, Mark says: ‘I view the time before my stroke as my ‘past life’, and it now feels like a foreign, almost unrecognisable place.  Since 1996, most of my artwork has been influenced by disability in some way. Stroke is a neurological condition and, in my case, it badly affected both my physical and cognitive abilities. Although I don’t welcome my disability, I value the impact it has had on my art. I perceive the world around me differently now because of my disability, therefore it is inevitable that my artwork reflects that fact.  I am enormously grateful to Arts Council England for its generous ongoing support for my work since my stroke, which has opened up so many exciting journeys by helping me overcome the restrictions imposed on me by stroke. I’m proud to say that ACE funding has resulted in my art reaching audiences totalling over 1,000,000 people since 2004.’

Over recent years Mark has developed exciting collaborations with neuroscientists and psychologists, using his experience in art and of his neurological condition, to investigate how we respond to the natural environment.  It is hoped that this work will lead to outcomes that will be of health benefit to a wide range of people, including those with neurological conditions.

In recognition of these collaborations, Mark is currently an Honorary Research Fellow at Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS, University of Sussex), and an Associate Member at The Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, Staffordshire University.  His primary collaborators are Professor Hugo D Critchley at Brighton and Sussex Medical School, and Dr Nichola Street and Dr Gemma Hurst at Staffordshire University.

Mark is also the founder and Co-Director of Reflecting Nature in art & science, a charity that promotes the advancement of the arts and science, focusing on the health benefits of the natural environment to the public.  

Over The Sea Run The Hares logo / Design: Mark Ware

Mark’s recent projects have included,

‘Over The Sea Run The Hares’– an R&D activity that is creatively exploring his altered perceptions of self, resulting from acquired neurological disability (stroke).  This latest work is being developed in consultation with his neuroscience and psychology collaborators.  Mark says, ‘I had a severe stroke over 22 years ago. When it happened, it left me confused and uncertain about the new world I found myself in, where even the simplest of tasks proved to be immensely challenging. Things that were previously important to me were less so, and many of the things that I had ignored suddenly took on a new and profound importance.  Most significantly, experience of stroke  made me question my perception of self and my role in relation to others. Today, I have a different understanding of my brain injury and the subjective experiences it has triggered. Over The Sea Run The Hares will be a multimedia, multisensory performance that will attempt to convey and express how I reflect upon my stroke now, after 22 years of living with the condition. My hope is that the work will help people who have not had a similar experience better understand what it feels like to have a stroke, including people within the medical profession. Creatively, the intention will be to push the boundaries of photographic and cinematic language in an attempt to capture the often surreal and mesmerising quality of brain injury experience.’ The first R&D phase of Over The Sea Run The Hares was supported by Arts Council England.

‘5 EASY STEPS’ – a multimedia, multisensory portrait commission, exploring perceptions of self in other people with disabilities.  The commission was awarded by CEDA to Mark as part of its ACE supported ‘Total Immersion’ project.  CEDA is an Exeter-based charity that provides learning and social opportunities for disabled people in Devon. 

Left to right: Julian, Sammy, Rob and Rona / Image: Mark Ware

Mark has worked with four of the charity’s users (Julian, Sammy, Rob and Rona) employing a variety of techniques involving painting-with-light photography, creative writing, performance and sound recording. The issues behind this work affect us all and are particularly relevant in this age of social media and the ‘selfie’. Some of the questions it raises are, ‘What is a portrait, who is it for, and why is it being created?’ ‘How much can we understand about the ‘true person’ through portraiture, including ‘selfies’? ‘How can one capture a portrait of a person with disabilities that goes beyond superficial surface impressions, in ways that convey that person’s true self?

There have been several outcomes from this project, including an exhibition of four portrait banners that were hung above a walkway in Princesshay Shopping Centre during May 2018 as part of Art Week Exeter:

 

‘Total Immersion’ portraits of Rob, Julian, Sammy and Rona exhibited as part of Art Week Exeter 2018 at Princesshay Shopping Centre, Exeter May 2018 / Photo and artwork: Mark Ware

Publications:

Mind-wandering and alterations to default mode network connectivity when listening to naturalistic versus artificial sound

Articles about Mark’s collaborations can be found at:

New Scientist

Arts Council England

The Psychologist

Disability Arts Online

“Mark is an inspiration to us all and an important voice that deserves to be and should be heard. He is truly an artist for the 21st century” – Steven Brown, Royal Exchange Theatre Company, Manchester.

 

All text and images on this website copyright Mark Ware unless otherwise stated.