Mark Threadgold's work has been exhibited throughout Australia as well as the UK since 1998. His work is held in public collections in Australia and in private collections around the world. He has been selected as a finalist in numerous national art awards around Australia, including his selection, for three consecutive years, in the prestigious Metro 5 Art Award. In 2008 he won the Corangamarah Art Prize.
“Mark Threadgold’s affinity with past masters is evident in his technical expertise. Traces of Caravaggesque naturalism and moody romanticism, combined with the textural invention of the artist, situate his work at the end of a linear history of painting. However, Threadgold also manages to dispossess tradition of the sole rights to painterly representation. He directs the formal techniques which were once employed to represent social and cultural icons to more subjective ends. His pun on the ‘Speak no evil’ epigram, for example, conceals an existential despair which modifies clarity and defies the critical language of conventional art history. Content is personal rather than social; repressive rather than communicable. Threadgold impregnates his work with a relentless subjectivity which repossesses his medium from the strict control of tradition”
James McGregor, lecturer in History of Art and Architecture
2013 Specialist Certificate in Education, Clinical teaching, University of Melbourne
1999 Graduate Diploma of Education, University of Melbourne
2016 Mark Threadgold, James Makin Gallery, Melbourne
2010 The New Now, Metro Gallery, Melbourne
Selected Group Exhibitions
2016 Ten + 3, James Makin Gallery, Melbourne
2016 March Group Exhibition, James Makin Gallery, Melbourne
2011 Sunshine Coast Art Prize, Caloundra Regional Art Gallery, Queensland
2011 Face Look, Dark Horse Experiment, Melbourne
2011 Hand Drawn Boom, Paradise Hills Gallery, Melbourne
2011 Winter Solstice, Metro Gallery, Melbourne
2010 Art For Sharks, Carity Art Auction, 27 Gipps Street Gallery, Melbourne
2012 'This is Paradise' A Book by Paradise Hills, forward by Ashley Crawford
2010 2010 Exhibition Catalogue Essay by Ashley Crawford
2011 Sunshine Coast Art Prize, Finalist
2009 Prometheus Art Award, Finalist
City of Whitehorse
Private Commissions in London, Melbourne, Sydney
The New Now
By Ashley Crawford
Mark Threadgold’s meticulously executed canvases glow with the luscious, milky creaminess of orchids, the glittering golden excesses of a butterflies wing, the perfect smoothness of a child’s cheek.
And then there are the sharks.
Threadgold’s paintings resound with the battle between beauty and destruction, innocence and decay,
Children are a difficult subject. Not only are they somewhat generic – age and experience have yet to hone and harden their features – they tend to be, well, cute. But place them in a context that seems to be off-kilter and something kicks in. Place a fresh-faced toddler in an environment that seems both claustrophobic and yet eerily insubstantial, say a box of smoked glass with said child gazing beyond the picture frame with something akin to fear, or at the least disturbed confusion, and paternal instinct kicks in.
But has Threadgold encased his children, his orchids, his bulbous fruits and his butterflies in smoked glass chambers for more altruistic reasons? Apocalypse seems to be the pop-culture talisman in the new millennium – whether it be novels, films or visual arts – the end of the world is all too common fodder. Unfortunately it is not confined to fictions – the nightly news with earthquakes in Asia and oil spills in Louisiana hints at nightly Armageddon. In Australia most recently it was fire – blistering winds churning fire bombs through bush valleys, the skies turning to bloodied darkness at midday. Threadgold captures the inferno from an eerily deserted road, as though humanity had already passed through on an epic trek for survival.
But Threadgold, inspired by the stories of survivors of the fires, has found a seam of oxygen in the smoke. In psychology, Post Traumatic Growth is a condition where a small percentage of people who suffer trauma in their lives recover with a profound sense of optimism and improvement to their lives. This notion of a disaster leading to a positive outcome has become the basis of Threadgold’s new work; the transition from his previous tendency towards undertones of melancholia, to his new work where he has discovered an optimistic escape from the dark days.
With his fascination with the extremes of light and darkness, Threadgold’s elite core of inspiring predecessors comes as little surprise. He cites the knowing humour of Richard Prince, Gerhard Richter’s willingness to push the medium of paint. Caravaggio he cites “for his murderous competitiveness and use of chiaroscuro.” Unsurprisingly Dutch Still Life painting is there with its use of shadow and sulpherous light.
And then there are the sharks.
Unsurprisingly Damien Hirst also makes it onto Threadgold’s list. Hirst managed to cause considerable angst when he presented The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Something Living in 1991, a massive tiger shark immersed in a glass tank of formaldehyde. Threadgold has long been fascinated with placing his subjects in what seem to be geometric preserving jars, but when it comes to his shark it seems to be the very edge of the painting that keeps the monster at bay, and then only just.
For Threadgold the shark represents mystery. It is a symbol of fear, but one that should be overcome with rational thinking. Our perception of the shark has changed over time. There’s not a great deal known about the Great White Shark still and the more we discover, the less of a single minded man-eater it becomes. “Hirst’s shark was dead,” Threadgold notes. “Mine is well and truly alive.”
When I met with the artist one winter afternoon recently he showed me a snapshot of his diminutive daughter standing next to his massive shark painting. It could have been (and maybe will be?) a composition for one of Threadgold’s paintings – the juxtaposition of brute force and pure innocence.
Threadgold’s structures, what he has dubbed his “containment line” have something in common with the giant greenhouse-like geodesic domes floating outside the orbit of Saturn in the 1972 film Silent Running. The domes keep secure the last remaining forests in the hope of returning them to an apparently barren Earth in order to reforest the planet, but such a plan becomes economically unfeasible and the resident botanist, played by Bruce Dern, is ordered to destroy the forests. He refuses and manages to jettison one dome to safety.
Threadgold’s orchids, butterflies and even children become akin to museum pieces – they become precious in their transitory beauty, buffeted by the outside storms of ‘progress’ and its attendant environmental Armageddon. If, in Chaos Theory, the flapping of a butterfly’s wings can cause hurricanes, they are as powerful in their way as the Great White Pointer, but, Threadgold seems to be telling us, there is room aplenty for all, the massive and the delicate, as long as all are treated with equality and respect.
Ashley Crawford, 2010