UPDATE: Here's the link if you have trouble viewing the film above: www.tinyurl.com/markalexander
Mark is a very dear friend. We go back a long way, first meeting whilst hanging out in Tudor bogs (the boys' lavatories and lockers at the Tudor house base of Cirencester Deer Park School - for some reason this was deemed a cool place to loiter). We got to know each other really well through participating in various inter-village battles, fought to settle disputes over which village's lads had got their harvest in first, sheared the most sheep, could do the best nutty dance, etc.
We went our separate ways for a couple of years or so but then, through coincidences too complicated to relate, we ended up getting confirmed in the Church of England and then going to Oxford together. The former was unlikely enough. But the latter, on Mark's part, was a fantastically unlikely achievement: he had only one 'O' level in art and one in metalwork (a B and a C respectively, I think). His admission was reported in the Daily Mirror. It was justified as, after an eventful time, he graduated with a first class bachelor's degree in fine art and since then has worked as a professional artist.
Here's one of his earlier paintings (left). It's in oil and looks monochrome but actually incorporates flecks of green, purple, blue and other colours. I think it's one of the most beautiful portraits.
When Mark left school he worked as a silversmith and then managed to become expert in precision aerospace engineering. These craft skills have informed his work. His techniques mirror those of the Old Masters - he taught himself in the traditional way by copying great works by artists such as Michelangelo, Vermeer, David and Stubbs.
Nevertheless, the ideas behind his works speak very much of our own day. Paradoxically, they speak of contemporary feelings of loss in a recovered language. I very much liked Mark's description of his 'sun' works as: 'Powerful, but hardly there, just coming through the ether like a radio signal'. It's a tremendously moving way to conceive of the past and the transmission of its culture to us today.