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Mark Stockwell – Olympian by David Hayes

Mark Stockwell - Olympian

David Hayes

About the artwork

In the several hours that David Hayes spent with Mark Stockwell two things that Stockwell said stood out, “I am very coachable”, and  “I want to try and be a good businessman”. While these were off hand comments, Hayes believes they hold the key to Stockwell being a champion: his ability, willingness and desire to learn and improve, and his thirst for achievement that can never be quenched. Hayes says, “I wanted to portray this in Marks facial expression  – he is looking beyond the moment, he is looking ahead to the next thing , he is distracted, perhaps never settled, not satisfied, pensive, yet sure of himself.

He is a giant man, physically and as a character in his various fields and the perspective is intended to accentuate that.” This perspective is also intended to reference the political portraiture of powerful men through history, in particular Shephard Fairey’s depiction of Barack Obama in  “Hope.” The archway behind the protagonist represents  the architecture of the L.A. colosseum which hosted the 1984 Olympics. Finally, the very specific jacket is quite individual (which is part of Stockwell’s own wardrobe, and which he prides himself on), and references bubbles in water.  

About the sitter

Mark Stockwell placed 3rd in the 100 m freestyle in his senior year at school. Five years later he won a silver medal in the 100m freestyle at the L.A. Olympic Games. He had the fastest qualifying time entering the final. Ever the optimist, he sees that he lost the race but won the girl, eventually marrying Tracy Caulkins whom he met whilst there and settling back in Brisbane. Some athletes find the transition away from sport difficult but Mark has built a substantial property and development empire since then says that he “would like to be a good businessman one day!” Mark gives back to Swimming Australia in a number of roles, and mentors young swimmers. He is a big man, with a big heart, big ideas and visions. He has the commanding presence of a powerful, successful man, who knows no finish line.

About the artist

David Hayes was born, and still lives in Brisbane. He paints portraiture and still life, with his content drawing heavily on metaphorical objects to layer deeper questions and narratives as they relate to the human condition and negotiating current world events. He has been shortlisted in many local, national, and also international art prizes and is currently working towards his third solo exhibition after having sold out his previous two. 

“It has always seemed logical to me to recreate my subjects building their unique anatomy layer by layer - at times I have also used xrays to understand the bone structure.”

Behind the scenes

It has always seemed logical to me to recreate my subjects building their unique anatomy layer by layer – at times i have also used xrays to understand the bone structure. 

Each layer is built up with layers of transparency and tone based on the light source. At the layer of neurovascular structures the physiology of the autonomic nervous system becomes apparent because one can deduce from the pattern of skin flushing , pupil dilation etc. what is active and hence an understanding of what the subject is feeling.

Once the skin is approached the history of age, experience ,sun exposure and personality can be interpreted because of the lines and wrinkles present due to the repetitive use of particular muscles. 

I end up “living” with my subject for months. I thought I was quite unique until a friend recently posted me an article about Leonardo Da Vinci – it appears that he thought like this first – bugger.