If Mark Roper wasn’t already on your radar, he most definitely is now. Originally hailing from the UK, Melbourne based Mark Roper isn’t just an artist, but a brilliantly versatile creative. With an extensive portfolio including food, travel, lifestyle and interior photography for both editorial and commercial projects, he is undoubtedly well regarded in his industry. However, Mark’s latest venture was one of a more personal journey.
We spoke to Mark fresh from the opening night of his new photography series ‘Arcane’. In his limited edition debut collection of 8 Archival Lustre prints exhibited at Otomys Contemporary gallery and online, Mark uses Polaroid film to explore the relationship between old and new, light and dark, chemical and digital.
Otomys Contemporary: Tell us a little about your background, what did you study and what led you to where you are today?
Mark Roper: I studied film and photography in the south west of the UK. I was originally going to take the path of film making but found I enjoyed the photography part of the course more, so ended up specializing in that.
Otomys Contemporary: What 3 words best describe your work?
Mark Roper: Moody, Layered, Mysterious.
Otomys Contemporary: What inspired your shift from traditional photographic work to polaroids, which forms your new ‘Arcane’ series?
Mark Roper: My editorial and commercial work is all shot digitally. I love the control and precision of digital photography but missed the unpredictability of film, especially Polaroid.
Otomys Contemporary: What did you love about experimenting with polaroids?
Mark Roper: With Polaroid, when you peel back the film you’re never 100 percent sure what the outcome will be. The more I experimented with the structure and the chemicals in the Polaroid, the more unpredictable it became. I manipulated the chemicals found in the film with a number of different elements which produced new and interesting results.
Otomys Contemporary: Can you give us a little insight into the creative process behind the ‘Arcane’ collection? Was there an intended message behind this work?
Mark Roper: There’s no set message behind the work, I think they are the kind of pieces that people will connect with in different ways. I started my career shooting on film and Polaroid so I was excited to get back to my photographic roots. I’d been sitting on the idea for a while so am very excited it’s all come to fruition!
Otomys Contemporary: What’s next for Mark Roper?
Mark Roper: Now that Arcane is complete it’s inspired a lot more ideas. I’d like to complete a series using a mix of mediums, not just photography. Hopefully I can finish the idea by early next year.
Otomys Contemporary: What would be your dream creative project?
Mark Roper: To work with a creative designer and create art for a large commercial space.
Otomys Contemporary: Where do you currently call home?
Otomys Contemporary: Can you share with us any best-kept-secret locations in a favourite neighbourhood around here?
Mark Roper: There’s a great little cafe called Next Of Kin in Elsternwick which does fantastic breakfasts and coffee.
Otomys Contemporary: What does a typical Saturday look like for you?
Mark Roper: A typical Saturday for me, if I’m on top of all my work, involves a lie in, a couple of coffees and then spending the day with my wife Deb and kids Jack and Ella. We like to head out for lunch at our local or down to the park or the beach.