When your dad is a visual artist it’s hard not to be drawn to the arts, for photographer Mark Randell this was the case.
“He’s always pushed me in that direction,” said Randell as he prepares for the opening of his exhibit at Ourglass Gallery and Studios. “Immediately after high school I did Alberta College of Art and University of Lethbridge, at that time I was getting into 3D and sculptural pieces and I realized the common thread was furniture that I was producing.”
Randell came to Nelson to attend the wood product design program at the Kootenay School of the Arts.
Even though he was studying wood design, he was also doing graphite drawings and dabbling in photography.
“It’s never really been a professional pursuit, the visual arts, it’s always been something I’ve done for myself,” said Randell. “A few years back my girlfriend organized a show for me without even telling me and so I was forced to really focus on that and ever since then I’ve been trying to create this body of work that I’ll be showing on Friday.”
Most of Randell’s previous photography was focused on wildlife and landscapes, but as he found himself getting a bit bored with those subjects he decided to introduce something new.
“I had this old vinyl baby doll kicking around the house so I started bringing that out with me and setting it up in interesting environments,” he said. “I gave myself some parameters there; there was no body else in the picture, the doll was the only subject, I liked the idea that if the doll wasn’t in the photo it would still be interesting but as soon as you put the doll in there is a narrative.”
Little Effigies — the collection that will be on display this month at Ourglass — extends from these first photos using the baby doll, to live models painted as dolls.
“I really liked how the doll was an ethereal version of a real person,” said Randell. “We allow them to have this certain kind of life and there is a link but it is at a distance. I did that with the drawing for a while. I like how it can be a picture of innocence but there is always something unsettling about the image of a doll, especially in the environments I’ve put them in.”
Little Effigies opens tonight at Ourglass Studios and will be running for the month of May.