Mark Shields

In early 2012 I had been combining collage and paint and ended up sticking patches of muslin over the paintings to allow quick changes to be made. The texture reminded me of the painted linen shrouds from Egypt, and I decided to work directly onto roughly cut muslin fragments with diluted oil paint.

The ghosts and traces of disintegrating, overlaid images made me think of the image as a residue of an almost ritual act rather than as the result of mere picture-making (like the so-called ‘image not made with hands’). This and perhaps associations with the Turin shroud and embroidered Byzantine altar-cloths led to the painting of full scale figures on narrow sections of cloth. It seemed natural that there should be a large number of these and that the number should be incomplete to evoke a perpetual search.

I worked on the images in pairs, overlaying one on the other and alternating this as I worked, resulting in two versions of the same idea or experience, so to speak, sometimes contradictory, sometimes complimentary.

For me they seemed to document moments of doubt, anxiety, revelation, gratitude and so on. A primitive and emblematic ‘Host’ of witnesses having their origins in real life, but interlaced with literary, cultural and historical references of personal resonance. I thought of them almost as icons acting as go-betweens or entry points to invisible realities.
– Mark Shields, November 2013

Mark Shields was educated at the University of Ulster. He lives and works near Belfast.