3 Creative Questions to Paul Bark
Paul Bark is an artist from the UK, now based in Malta. From a background of landscaping, he turned his passion for nature into art. As an eco-artist he does not only have nature for a subject, but also relies on nature for materials and process, without being harmful to the environment.
As a self-taught artist and without the ‘restraints’ of particular teaching techniques, he was able to develop his own style. So far, this has paid off; his work has been exhibited at different venues around the UK, like the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, One World Eco Art exhibition at the Oriel Washington Gallery, Queens Park Art centre and the Dansel Gallery and his work can be found in private collections both in Europe and the USA.
Like many artists, you draw your inspiration from nature. However, your process also concentrates on sustainability. Why is it important for you to include that in your work?
One day approximately 15 years ago while working as a landscape gardener, I had had enough of being asked to replace trees and flowers with paving stones and concrete so I took home a piece of discarded tree bark and decided to make art out of it. Since then I have been making and selling my work, exhibiting at various venues across the UK and online through my website. I have sold my work in the UK, USA, Germany, Sweden, France and Malta. I sometimes have to find part-time jobs to sustain my art passion and be able to put food on the table.
Since I was a child I have always loved nature and it was a natural progression for me to use environmentally friendly recycled raw materials. In today's throw away culture I feel that my art has a very important place as I feel that humans are in the process of destroying the fragile balance of nature. In a technological world where copying is part of daily existence, nature fascinates me in that it is unique, raw, endlessly new and inventive. It distresses me to think that a person takes a split-second decision to cut down a tree which has taken 50 years to grow or to chop down a forest to grow soy beans.
How do you decide on/calculate a price for your work?
Personally, I find pricing my work very difficult to do. Some of the pieces take hours and others take weeks. On top of that I am using recycled wood which is free but I also need to buy paints and other materials as well as tools. How does one put a value on ones time and work? Some of the works become so personal to me that once they are finished I am reluctant to part with them. In an ideal world I would like to give away my pieces to persons who truly appreciate them but this is not financially sustainable - even though I have done this on occasion. Therefore, in answer to the question......I basically pluck a figure out of the air like every other artist does.
What is the best tip you can give emerging artists?
The best bit of advice I can give to an emerging artist is to not let a negative comment about your work upset you. After all it is only one person's opinion and there are billions of opinions out there. Embrace all criticism - good or bad - even Van Gogh had his critics! Follow your dream even if it goes against the grain and be true to yourself and your art and always keep your soul intact.