Mark Gardner uses unseasoned, green wood with direct methods such as chainsaws, power planers and grinders. Gardner utilizes motifs from the art traditions of Africa and Oceania as a continuous inspiration. The subtle surface hatching and repetitive geometric lines that are typical of these traditions also are present in many of Gardner’s pieces.
Mark says about his work that “I have always enjoyed working with my hands and I’ve done lots of different things, from set construction and painting, to sculpting clay to woodworking. There is something about working with wood that gives me the most satisfaction. I started making furniture when I was sixteen and after struggling at the lathe for several years, I took a class with John Jordan at Arrowmont School for Arts and Crafts, receiving a firm foundation of turning techniques.
During the late 1990s I began a series of ebonized vessels inspired by the work of Clay Foster and Kristina Madsen, work carved with African and Fijian motifs. That led to my study of African and Oceanic art – a continuous inspiration. Another important influence is Stoney Lamar. Starting in the fall of 2000 I began sharing studio space with Stoney. For the next six years I was able to work next to him and observe his approach. He considers the lathe a tool for carving as opposed to a tool for making round or symmetrical objects. This perspective inspired me to experiment with other tools. The lathe has become a place for me to begin my work”.