Creative Conversations No3: Mark Dunhill

2 Feb

On this show I talk to Mark Dunhill during his exhibition ‘Stone Appreciation 2’ at the Drill Hall (11 August to 8 September 2012).

‘Stone Appreciation 2’ was the first exhibition I saw at the Drill Hall, and caught me by surprise. I was really taken with the show and brought a few friends back to see this show.  The exhibition revolved around their investigations into Bowder stones and involved three videos, a collection of postcards and sculptural shapes that I initially thought was made from clay. It was wonderfully laid out, with one object leading you to the others. I liked their use of trestle tables for their sculptural objects, as it felt like the clay shapes were part of a separate workshop that had been going on. This I felt utilised the space and connected with the stone carving workshops that the Portland Sculpture and Quarry Trust (PQST) runs. I like this aspect of confusion that the work initially through up. Unsure of what bits were the exhibition and what weren’t. It was only after I spent some time that I realised it was all part of the one show.

Stone Appreciation #2, takes as its subject six free standing, and to a greater or lesser extent well known rocks: the Bowder Stone; the Idol Rock; the Toad Rock; the Chiding Stone; the Hitching Stone and the Big Stone at Bentham, all located in the North West and South East of England. Having discovered these ‘celebrity’ rocks by purchasing postcards on the Internet, Dunhill and O’Brien have been preoccupied by a quest to visit and measure each of these, much photographed, landmarks.

I was impressed that an exhibition of this calibre was staged down here. How Hannah and Paul manage to continue show work of this stature will be interesting to see.

Right click (or Ctrl click on a Mac) on this link (Creative Conversations with Mark Dunhill) to download (Save Link As). Or subscribe to our podcast, or subscribe via iTunes to have it automatically appear in your inbox.

About the show

During my conversations with Mark I found out that he had long connection with PQST, having a connection with the trust since its very early days. He had exhibited in Tout Quarry in 1984; this show was in a way the birth of the trust.

Mark studied Fine Art and Sculpture at Bristol and Royal College of Art, graduating in 1977. Since graduation he moved into teaching and has continued to bring students down to Portland. He now works with Tamiko O’Brien since 1998 making exhibitions, installations and residencies. Combing art practice with busy schedule teaching. He is now Dean of Art at Central St Martins. Together (Dunhill and O’Brien) they have exhibited in galleries and project spaces in the UK, Ireland, Holland, Italy, Germany and Japan.

Mark has continued his connect with the trust and had discussed with Hannah & Paul about his using the space to try something out. They were happy to collaborate and help install the work. Spending a couple of weeks to adapt to the space and the materials.

bowder stone

Mark talks about where the original idea had sprung. How the elements relate to each other. How he sees the artwork as an installation, it’s the whole thing.

Its funny as I had been talking to another artists Paul Soulellis, who had made some book works and in one featured a Bowder Stone from Weymouth, Massachusetts. You can hear this conversation with Paul next week.

Mark talks a bit about his ongoing discussion with the trust. About it not being just a heritage centre, but a space that can combine heritage, arts, education and science, and be a community space.

Its interesting thinking of how Portland is this strange mix of being very insular, while also being international. That stone from the island has gone all over the world. It was not that long ago when the navy was still based here that it felt unwelcome to visitors. One benefit to this attitude is even now it has a very strong community feel to the place.

It was also fascinating thinking of the holes, the spaces that have been removed. With the stone being removed and shipped off. It’s also unusual that the quarrying happens within the community, this is quite a rare thing. Mark never gets bored with Portland and fantasies having a studio down here, one day, some day.

bowder stone

We talk about attracting audiences to contemporary art. He thinks back to when he was a student and how times have changed. How contemporary art is everywhere? There is too much art around nowadays?

That maybe all the art organisations in rural places should coordinate and communicate better amongst themselves. Mark struggled to know what was going on here over the summer it all seemed too confusing.

We than touch on funding and artists funding themselves to do certain things. He has mainly funded this exhibition himself. He had received a little from his university, but they’d funded it through his employment.

We touch on the future of the trust and the Drill Hall. How they will continue to survive and prosper as an organisation.

We finish up hearing Mark’s thoughts on the exhibition. How he had found the process; what they now feel about the end work; and where they might go with this body of work. He has been told of a number of other Bowder Stones that they weren’t aware of, that they might go onto investigate.

Fing out more about their work at;


3 Responses to “Creative Conversations No3: Mark Dunhill”


  1. Creative Conversations No3: Mark Dunhill - JOE Stevens news - February 5, 2013

    […] 3 of my creative conversation show sees me talking to Mark Dunhill during his exhibition ‘Stone Appreciation 2’ at the Drill Hall on […]

  2. Overview of Series 2 of Creative Conversation | creative conversations - June 26, 2013

    […] episode 3 I talk to Mark Dunhill, who works with Tamiko O’Brien making exhibitions, installations and residencies. Combing art practice with busy schedule teaching. He is now Dean of Art at Central St Martins. […]

  3. Series 2 ratings | creative conversations - July 3, 2013

    […] we have my Creative Conversations with Mark Dunhill. Followed by the conversation with photographer Jim Cooke. Both these shows were recorded at Drill […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: