All artists share the same propensity for exploration, for discovery, for adventure. Creative art is one of the greatest tools in which to explore the world around us, the environment that we call our home, whether that be urban or rural, highland or lowland, oceanside or deep desert. We are the measure of our external environment, we allow it to mould us, to guide us, to flavour us, and to pass through us.

However, what is perhaps not so well measured, and is less talked about or remarked upon, is the propensity for internal exploration, discovery, and adventure. Internal self-discovery can be complex, intensely personal, and can often seem to be exclusive, rather than inclusive. It is probably why it is more difficult for the artist to convey, and the critic to remark upon. But it is a most powerful engine for creativity, and I would argue, the most dynamic and vivid of any form of human exploration. 

The fine art painter Mark Hopper has the prospect of his inner self at the core of his expressive work. As he says himself: "Art for me is an adventure of the inner self, a personal journey that is full of unexpected surprises." He works extensively with his unconscious self, exploring the automatic, the unthinking, the intuitive. It is a world of deep and underlying expression, one that is often unfamiliar, uncontrolled, uncertain, but at the same time immensely revelational, creatively realisational, and to Mark as an artist, intoxicating.

Everything for the artist has the capacity to inform, and inspire. It is the unconscious self that makes the intuitive gutsy decisions, that orders the first dynamic draft that unveils the initial spark of creativity. We speak often of our gut instincts, and although the gut is a physical reality, in many ways the expression has an understanding amongst us all, it is something deeply rooted, deeply ingrained, and often deeply hidden.

It is the artist that delves this deep, and it is the artist that gives us hope, and gives us a form of understanding as to what really does lie deep within us. It is a propensity for so much connective expression, so much development of self, and extraordinary flowering of creativity, and it is something that we all share with the artist, it is by no means theirs alone.

Externally Mark uses inspiration from one of the oldest, and yet one of the newest forms of self-expression, graffiti. Humans have always made their presence known through graffiti, whether through picture or the written word. To see this form of self-expression as a contemporary blight on our urban landscape, is a puzzlingly myopic one. We are who we are due to the external self-expression that we give ourselves. Mark is particularly intrigued with tagging, being fascinated with its shape and flow of line, the layering of individual tagging, one individual overwriting another, and the dance that tagging has with local authorities, with expression, obliteration, and re-expression playing its symbolic role between self and authority.

But it is the element of self through graffiti that really intrigues this artist. To make a mark, and to say that that mark is a representation of an individual, and a moment in that individuals life, is a powerful and important statement of self, and it is something that Mark as artist values in himself, and vitally values in others.

But above all, this is an artist that sees expression as ritualistic understanding and accommodation. He works mostly in the open air, allowing the elements, himself, and his deeper unknown self, to come to a form of understanding, an agreement of sorts with an overarching connectivity with forces and movements that are timeless and primal. Everything is openly interpretational, guided only by the elemental freedom of non-judgemental exploration and discovery. All is open, all is free, and all is part of the adventure.

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