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The artist Mark Hearld finds his inspiration in the flora and fauna of the British countryside: a blue-eyed jay perched on an oak branch; two hares enjoying the spoils of an allotment; a mute swan standing at the frozen water's edge; and a sleek red fox prowling the fields. Hearld admires such twentieth-century artists as Edward Bawden, John Piper, Eric Ravilious and Enid Marx, and, like them, he chooses to work in a range of media – paint, print, collage, textiles and ceramics. Workbook is the first collection of Hearld's beguiling art. The works are grouped into nature-related themes introduced by Hearld, who narrates the story behind some of his creations and discusses his influences. He explains his particular love of collage, which he favours for its graphic quality and potential for strong composition. Art historian Simon Martin contributes an essay on Hearld's place in the English popular-art tradition, and also meets Hearld in his museum-like home to explore the artist's passion for collecting objects, his working methods and his startling ability to view the wonders of the natural world as if through a child's eyes.
Mark Hearld studied at Glasgow School of Art and the Royal College of Art, London. He is the illustrator of the children's book A First Book of Nature (2012). Simon Martin is Head of Curatorial Services at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, West Sussex. A specialist in modern British art, he has recently contributed to an exhibition catalogue on Edward Burra.