Marks love of making things was fostered from a young age by his parents and grand parents. From the age of 10, he spent most of his hard earned pocket money on tools! Mark was given his great great grandfather’s cabinetmakers tool chest which was bought to Australia in 1859. Mark excelled in Manual Arts in high school. This led to a diverse apprenticeship trade journey, starting in sheet metalwork and leading to refrigeration and air conditioning, where brass, copper, steel, gases and electricity were all worked with to create breathing, functioning, electro mechanical systems. After gaining the Craftsman’s Certificate of Proficiency, he continued in these fields for another 21 years advancing from apprentice to manager.
In 2000 he left the air conditioning industry and worked with his partner Helen Stronach in Architecture for 5 years. The time spent working in the Architectural practice gave new insight into design, the use of space, texture and colour. Since 2006 numerous commissions of recycled and solid timber furniture pieces have led to the forming of The Solid Wood & Furniture Company. The furniture is a montage of heavy slab construction using Australian hardwood, clean lines and butter smooth finishes. This then led to Sculpture and art pieces which is now a full time occupation and love. The use of both ferrous and non ferrous metals ads texture, interest and a strength to the pieces. Mark, an artisan at heart, reverts wherever possible to the use of hand tools and hand rubbed finishes over power tools this keeps an element of quality and tradition in the pieces.
You will find, if you decide to work with Mark, that he can make just about anything! Mark has experience working with a huge variety of materials and “systems”, which brings an ingenuity to his designs and almost always with an element of “fun”.
2011 to Present: Full time Sculptor and furniture maker
2005 – 2011 Studio Furniture maker and part time Sculptor
2000 – 2005 Manager of Helen Stronach Architects Pty Ltd
1992 – 2000 Manager of Air Conditioning Company with 40 employees. Supervised Building Maintenance
Contracts and installation of commercial and industrial mechanical services
1980 – 1992 Service Technician and Manager
1976 – 1980 Sheet Metal Working and Refrigeration Mechanic Qualifications
Beeston, Leaf Table, Bliss, Catholic Church, Kamerling
Farr 40 Yacht Club Sydney, Bellevue St Sculpture
Newcastle Now/Newcastle City Council/ City Rail/Maitland City Council
Sculpture and street art/ Maitland Regional Art Gallery
Hunter Sculptors Inc – President 2014 – 2015
Australian Sculpture Hunter Region Inc – Vice President 2013 -14
The Sculptors Society (Sydney).
Futures Committee at Newcastle Studio Potters.
Master Class Two week marble sculpting master class with Italian Master
Sculptor Giovanni Balderi (January 2014)
2014 Flow exhibition, Cstudios Gallery
2014 “Maitland Art Prize”
2013 “Art By Stealth” Maitland City Council/Maitland Regional Art Gallery
2013 “Wind” Newcastle Art Space, Australian Sculpture Hunter Region
2013 “Australia Square” Sydney, The Sculpture Society
2013 “Hidden” Rookwood Cemetery (August) with Helen Stronach
2013 “Darling Park Exhibition” (August) The Sculptors Society
2013 “The Second Coming” Nobbys Lighthouse Newcastle
2013 “Small” Back to Back Gallery Newcastle
2013 “Gateway Exhibition” Circular Quay with The Sculptors Society
2013 “Sculpture on the Greens” Peoples Choice Award. Kooindah Waters Resort.
2012 “Australia Square Exhibition” with The Sculptors Society
2012 “Instilled” with Helen Stronach (Ceramicist) The Back to Back Gallery, Cooks Hill
2012 “Bowled Over” at Back to Back Gallery. (Mention by Judges)
2012 Toronto Exhibition – Group exhibition
2011 “Seascape and Beyond Exhibition” for beyondblue Foundation.
2011 Sydney Working with Wood Show – Horden Pavilion- studio furniture
2011 Studio Furniture on Permanent Exhibition at Studio 48, Lambton
2010 “The Crack that Let the light in” with Sue Stewart, Helen Stronach and Kathy Heinrich
2010 “Small” – Back to Back Gallery
This tool chest was given to Mark at the age of 10 by his grandfather Richard Legge. It originally was Richard’s grandfather, Phillip Legg, who made this tool chest whilst he was an apprentice cabinet maker in Jersey Isles in 1838.
Philip worked as a Seaman on the ship Elizabeth and arrived in Sydney in December 1850 (Richard’s father was Harry Legge from Leggs Camp, Myall Lakes).
Mark continues to use many of these tools on his pieces.
Quotes from Wood Workers
These are a few of my favorite quotes form old Wood Workers.
James Krenov – A Cabinetmaker’s Notebook.
“Here I am, here is my work – and someone is waiting for the fruits of these fleeting hours. My contentment is bound by the whitewashed walls of my little cellar shop, by the stacks of long-sought woods with their mild colours and elusive smells, by the planked ceiling through which I hear the quick footsteps of a child- and yet it is boundless, my joy. The cabinet is taking shape. Someone is waiting for it. With a bit of luck it will be liked, given a continuety in a life of its own. Hands will caress the shimmery surface, a thumb will discover the edge which I am rounding. An edge rounded with my plane. An edge cut rounded, but not sandpapered- a sensitive finger will understand its living imperfections and be pleased at the traces left by sharp steel on hardwood. Through the years this edge will be polished, change tone, gleam in mellowness. Yet always it will bear the marks of my favorite tool.”
Alan Peters – Cabinetmaking a professional approach
“I have purposely not painted a rosey picture of furniture making as a living, as opposed to a very pleasant pastime, for it is not for the faint hearted, and the following is only a guide to the complexities of such a career. At the end of the day, you must realise that no-one owes you a living; you will have to create it for yourself by your own efforts and by the quality of the work you produce.”
“If it’s not fun, it’s not worth doing”
Rotary Club of Newcastle
Pride of Workmanship Award
The Sculptors Society (Sydney)
Australian Sculptors – Hunter Region Inc – Vice President 2013
Woodworkers’ Association of NSW Member
NAVA – National Association for the Visual Arts Ltd
HAN- Hunter Arts Network
Member of the Wood Turners of The Hunter
Back to Back Galleries Cooks Hill
OHS Certification Class LF Forklift Gen
Cert No N- 0085370/1
WorkCover General Induction
Accreditaion No 00789