Turner prize nominee, Mark Titchner confirmed for Journeys Festival International, Manchester

Things are shaping up pretty nicely for Journeys Festival International 2017, and we’re getting excited to share with you what we’ve got planned across the three cities of Leicester, Manchester and Portsmouth.

It gives us great pleasure to announce that Mark Titchner, the British Turner prize nominee, is confirmed as the Look Up artist for Journeys Festival International

Manchester this year. Mark will be collaborating with United for Change, a refugee and asylum seeker led advocacy group facilitated by Pathway Arts to create artwork across the city. Together they will create striking, text artwork that will be installed large scale, outdoors and across the city, as part of the festival from 2 – 15 October 2017.

The work will invite those who pass it, by chance, or on purpose, to pause for a moment and think about language, the world we live in today and these artworks will act as a voice for Manchester's diverse community.

Hi Mark, could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m an artist based in South London. I work across a range of media including large scale print, video, sound, murals, installation and performance. Over the last five years much of what I do has been focused on making works in the public realm and this has also involved working and collaborating with many different people and groups.

Your work can be quite philosophical and bold, where do you get your inspiration from?

My practice is really about how we relate to bigger things, such as identity, politics or consumerism. I often use techniques found in advertising and propaganda such as short, commanding statements that seek to directly address the viewer. I find inspiration all around from a song I might hear on the radio to a leaflet I might find in the street.

Why do you like using text and image?

For me text is like the voice, but visual, something you can see. My work is about putting a voice in the public realm. Sometimes this can be a kind of spiritual, voice of authority and other times it could be the voice of a child. So in other words sometimes it can be a shout and sometimes it can be a whisper. When I was growing up the first art that I discovered was in comic books and on record covers, where image and text are used together and I think this had a very big effect on me.

As the Look Up artist for JFI Manchester your work will be outdoors, in public places across the city, why is this important for you?

These days I’m really much more interested in public spaces than galleries. I’m interested in discovering something like art in a day to day situation, where it seems unusual. A chance encounter. It’s also important that the works are available to as many people as possible rather than just for those audiences with a knowledge of art.

Why are you interested in language, particularly native and foreign languages?

Well, language makes up our world and our experience of it, but we don’t think about it that much. As I said before, text is also a way to try and represent a voice. I’ve been working on a project recently in Luton, which is where I was born, where we translated a large scale English work, ‘If you can dream it, you must do it’ into different languages spoken in the town. Luton has an incredibly diverse population and over 100 languages are spoken there. I wanted to try and show this in my art.

Did the people of Luton like the work?

I think it is quite interesting for people to experience a text artwork that they can’t read. Another aspect of this was that the translations were made using a computer translation service, so they are often are not that accurate! We have the wonderful situation where the works have been corrected by people who speak the language into a better interpretation!

How will you be getting involved in Journeys Festival International this year?

I’ll be working with Pathway Arts and United for Change on a series of workshops with refugees and asylum seekers. Through these workshops I’ll be creating three large scale public works that will be installed in Manchester, as part of the festival.

What does it mean to be part of the festival for you?

I really enjoy the workshop process and what comes out of conversation and debate there, so I’m open minded and excited about what the final Look Up artworks will be. I also like that the art at the festival can be experienced by anyone who comes along. Like I said before, art in the public realm is not just for those with an arts knowledge, it is for all, which is great!

2 Oct – 15 Oct 2017

#JFIMcr // @JourneysFest


Mark’s new website is here if you would like to see more of his!


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