When British punk rock took over London’s cultural scene in the 1970s, the world turned up the volume and listened. Spearheaded by bands like The Clash, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Sex Pistols and The Damned, this ear-splitting fusion of anarchy and expression defined a generation. Its working-class angst spoke to a young Mark, and after a chance encounter with the new wave musician Adam Ant at the age of just 11 led to him touring with the band, Mark became drawn to the punk subculture, eventually becoming close friends with some of the movement’s pioneers and troubadours, including the Sex Pistols and the Stranglers.
A career in videography beckoned, and Mark went on to work as a cameraman and a director of photography for bands like the Police and Frankie Goes to Hollywood before joining the BBC. During his successful film career, Mark has directed and produced documentaries on Billy Fury, the Beatles, John Lennon, David Bowie, Sid Vicious, the Sex Pistols and more. These legendary figures, along with his friend and fellow neon artist Chris Bracey, inspired Mark to create the Illuminati Neon brand.
Featuring punk-inspired imagery emblazoned with neon, vintage memorabilia and song lyrics, his original artworks have commanded the attention of the art world. In 2019, he was showcased at the prestigious Saatchi Gallery for their START Art Fair, which features some of the best emerging global talent.
In 2020, Mark was featured by the press when his punk portrait of Queen Elizabeth II received the royal approval from none other than the Queen herself! The matriarch is said to have enjoyed the artwork, but requested that her ‘Philip’ heart tattoo be changed to the royal crest – and Mark dutifully obliged. He says: “Allegedly, she burst out laughing but requested that it be changed so that it matched her bathrobes and slippers.”
Hand-painted in oils and acrylics at his studio in Shepherd’s Bush, London, his fluorescent creations are just as anarchic as their namesake. The handblown glass neon is formed using a centuries-old technique, echoing the exhilarating mixture of modern and classical that shaped the punk rock aesthetic.
Mark says: “Every piece tells a story about that transformative era: my experience of it, the people who made it and became my friends, and the honorary punks who personified its anarchy, chaos and rock ‘n’ roll long before the movement had a name.”