Mark Hatwood - 100 Journal
I caught up with Mark Hatwood on a cool, clear April evening. A low sun filtered through the enormous pines that stand next to his whitewashed cottage, deep in the lush green landscape of the Roseland Peninsula. It is by all accounts idyllic here. G&Ts are made and we sit in the late sun with his wife, the incredible florist Susanne (The Blue Carrot) and their Romanian rescue dog, Trudy. I first photographed Mark in the newly opened extension of The Harbour Gallery in 2016 with Totty, the only dog to appear twice in the original 100 Portraits series (she also appeared alongside Susanne in her portrait). It was good to come and catch up with Mark and Susanne in their new home and find out how things have changed over the last two years.
I took your portrait in 2016, I think we worked out that it was before Brexit…
Mark: Yes definitely before Brexit - I was smiling in my portrait!
The biggest change for me in the last couple of years has been moving house. We moved here to Porters (from Portscatho) and it’s just been a gift beyond all gifts. We sadly lost Totty but gained Trudy which has been quite emotional. Business-wise there’s been big changes, I have put it down to the Brexit thing but everyone has their own ideas about what it is, but the market slump really forced me into re-thinking how I was doing what I was doing. It made me realise that I needed to think outside of a location based gallery and go beyond that which is where the idea of BritishContemporary.Art (a new online gallery) came from. At the same time, I thought I need to get myself more publicity generally which is where the idea of writing for Cornwall Today magazine came in and I’ve also written for The Artist Magazine. So I’ve got myself out in the art realms a lot more and my name around the industry has become stronger as a result. My aim with BritishContemporary.Art is to take The Harbour Gallery (Mark’s gallery in Portscatho) to another extent. I wondered, what if I didn’t have walls to pay for, what if I didn’t have staff to pay, what if I could literally just have a well curated, well run, online gallery that worked as hard for the artists as I would in the physical gallery?
Usually, with me, I get an idea and launch myself into it, but with this (BritishContemporary.Art) I really sat back and considered every single element that I can offer, the ways that I can do it and made sure I approached all the best artists I could find in advance. I had a launch date set for the 1st January 2018 and I worked hard on getting everything set up for the launch and then made it live on that day. I didn’t think I’d get any sales within six months, but we had sales through the site within three months and having the website rise to the top of Google for ‘British contemporary art’ has just been incredible.
Last year I spent so much time getting this new house together, it really had an impact on the gallery and its success. I’m just now working on bringing the Harbour Gallery website up to scratch to match the new BritishContemporary.Art website.
Your move to Porters came about from Susanne’s circumstances…
Yes, her landlord (of the workshop from where she runs the phenomenally successful Blue Carrot) put that seed of doubt in her mind which was enough for her to want to jump. We couldn’t find any suitable land to buy for a new workshop and we didn’t want to rent again so we had to change our thought patterns around the predicament. The only way to do it would be to move house but I didn’t want to, I was happy in Portscatho. But the way things came about, the stars aligned to give us this incredible house, even though at the time I wasn’t as in love with is as Susanne was! I love being here and working from here, I’m doing more than I ever had before but it just doesn’t feel like it.