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Making a Marc on new $5.5 million Redcliffe Art gallery

Posted: 5pm 09 Jul 2020

Redcliffe’s new $5.5 million art gallery has turned to one of the Moreton Bay region’s oldest and most prolific artists ahead of its official opening.

Marc Clark is 96. He lives at Deception Bay and has work in major galleries and gardens across Australia. In fact, some of his sculptures have become landmarks.

In early September, more than 50 of his drawings, paintings and sculptures will form the first exhibition at Redcliffe’s new gallery, now part of the council building in Irene St.

Though not in good health, Marc saw the display of his work for the first time on July 9 and was moved to say it was “the first really good exhibition I’ve had”.

“I’ve shown in here, there and everywhere, but I’m so fortunate to have been given the chance (at Redcliffe) to show what I have been doing,” he says.

“I think the gallery is a really magnificent place and I hope it will be a drawcard to this area.

“I think some will be puzzled by the larger sculptures, but that’s because there’s some very personal to me and I felt the necessity to make them. I hope the more natural things like portraits they will appreciate.”

Amazing talent

Moreton Bay Regional Council Mayor Peter Flannery paid tribute to Marc’s work saying he’s an “amazing man of many talents”.

“As we come out of these COVID restrictions, your display will one of the first people will be able to come and see in this new art gallery in Redcliffe,” Cr Flannery says.

“I’ve been amazed by the different techniques, styles in these drawings, paintings and sculptures. Thank you for sharing that gift with us and the community and allowing us to display your artwork.”

Art has been Marc’s life from a young age. It started at school in England and quickly expanded to wood carvings, before taking off at the Sidney Cooper School of Art.

In his late teens, Marc joined the British Army, seeing service in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and Austria during World War II after which he went to the Royal College of Art in London.

“I exhibited regularly in good galleries in England and Scotland,” he recalls, “I got on the phone and asked if someone would like to come and look at my work as I would like to be included in an exhibition.

“They said they were not interested in unknown sculptors like me. I was very angry. I felt I was just waiting my time here.”

Call from down under

However, another phone call was to change his life. In the early 1960s, he was invited down to Melbourne to teach at Caulfield Technical College.

Marc accepted and later moved to what is now the Victorian College of the Arts, where he became a senior lecturer and often acted as Dean of the Art School.

“I was lucky enough to get a job,” he says, “I had very good students, I worked very hard and enjoyed it.

“I have done quite a lot of public work. Statues of Captain Cook, Flinders and Bligh, 3m high in bronze. I enjoyed making those.”

The statues, in Victoria (Cook and Flinders) and Sydney (Bligh), are lasting public displays of Marc’s work, which continued when he retired in 1984 and moved to Queensland.

“Hopefully, I can continue to work. I’ll certainly do drawings because it is in my nature.”

Marc’s wife of 37 years Waltraud added: “Marc and I would like to thank you for your generosity and having the idea to organise this exhibition.

“We are very touched. We won’t forget it. The kindness you have shown us will not be forgotten.”

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