Vicky Meets…

Mark and Rebecca Ford, industrial artists. Photo: Rachel Poulton
Mark and Rebecca Ford, industrial artists. Photo: Rachel Poulton

Mark and Rebecca Ford, industrial artists

A visit to Mark and Rebecca’s garden in Slindon is a restorative experience. Beautiful, tranquil and complete with art in multifarious forms, just being there evokes a wonderful sense of calm. Amazing how potent and effective nature can be.

Using natural resources and ancient traditions and techniques, the couple, who are committed to people experiencing themselves as creative, run weaving workshops from their very own paradise. They also represent the UK at international land events and design and weave commissions, often on a huge scale, all over the world.

“Our work reflects a renewed interest in a slower pace of life,” said Rebecca, who is both an artist and writer. “Modern lifestyles are killing us – we have no boundaries on our time – but when you sit in one of our structures you can’t help but relax.”

For Mark, whose degree is in sculpture, nature is the ultimate inspiration.

“Working with nature and natural materials just called to me. My childhood was spent outside on Kingley Vale. I was also involved in sea scouting and we would make things like shelters with materials gathered from the woods.”

Marvelling at photographs of their work, including a full-size horse and soldier, I asked how they take an idea and realize it on such an epic scale.

“We respond to the space, come up with an idea and then we do it. It can be physically and emotionally tough, but it’s a compelling process; I believe that whatever idea I have, Mark can make it. We have complete faith in each other,” said Rebecca.

“We literally put blood, sweat and tears into our projects,” added Mark.

Asked about stand-out sculptures they have created, Rebecca recalled a giant chilli that took two weeks to make for the West Dean Chili Festival.

“The scale was good,” confirmed Mark. “At one point we had a mariachi band playing in it!”

But it was a giant apple they created for an event that saw Rebecca approached by a woman she had never met before.

“She told me that she had made a life-changing decision sitting in that apple,” Rebecca said, adding: “You do feel meditative sitting in a structure like that.”

As for future projects, workshops, commissions, designing a wedding site and a land art event in Poland are in the diary, while closer to home Mark is also Coordinator of the Arundel Art Trail and installer of the famous Slindon Pumpkin display. He and Rebecca are also organising an exhibition in Chichester of work by local art teachers.

There is also a wish to fill a vast space with their work.

“We love to weave inside a huge space like a gallery, but we can design for any space; inside or outside. Anything is possible,” said Mark.

The Art Teachers Exhibition at The Oxmarket Gallery, Chichester, celebrates the work and inspiration provided by Art Teachers. 15th – 27th August; www.oxmarket.com/art-teachers-exhibition/

More information about Mark and Rebecca’s art and willow weaving courses: www.twocirclesdesign.co.uk