W. Mark Wilman in Profile
Mark's photographic project 'Discovering the Beauty of the Cyclades', now in its 6th year, had its first public (solo) exhibition at the Aquarium of Milan from May to June 2019 officially approved and promoted by the Department of Culture of the Milan Municipality.
The centrepiece of the event was a photo entitled 'Lost Lady of Sikinos, Neiko' because of its anticipation by two years of one of the most significant historical discoveries in recent Greek archeological history, following the precise theme at the same location as the find: a noble woman buried in the third century A.D. under the stone floor of Episkopi, a monumental church in a remote area of this island in the southern Aegean.
Dedicated to the memory of Professor Angelos Delivorias, former director of the preeminent Benaki Museum in Athens for more than forty years and a foremost archeologist, the exhibition and project were presented by the Greek Embassy in Rome and British Embassy in Athens on their social media platforms, as well as by top journals in Italy and Greece (see the Media page). The Professor's explanations about antiquity over the two decades he and Mark knew each other were of great use during his explorations of the Cyclades for the creation of the work.
The project, presented also by the Greek Embassy in Tel Aviv on their social media, has been proposed to UNESCO to encourage conservation of the archipelago for future generations. Further research is sponsored by ANEK LINES, a leading shipping company in the Mediterranean (see the Project & Sponsors' page).
Interviews with Mark were recently published in The Greek Herald and Greek City Times which focused on the project.
A frequent visitor to the archipelago since age ten, Mark has enjoyed numerous experiences on the islands, freediving, rock climbing and trekking to discover their abundant beauty in detail using a camera to capture his impressions along the way. He began work on the project in 2014 and remains highly focused on it until today. Now in his mid-fifties and still exercising vigorously six days a week, he appreciates how a passion for exploration has influenced his outlook.
Originally from the Notting Hill area of London, though with origins also in the Caribbean, he spent many years in Milan following a teaching and consulting career with a client list that included high level professionals such as a world famous Italian fashion designer - influential in Mark's choice of black elegance in the Beauty of the Female Kind galleries; Università degli Studi di Milano (University of Milan) where he lectured for fifteen years to PhDs, researchers and professors; national and multinational organisations in a variety of sectors, particularly the legal field and advertising where he collaborated with the principal international agencies, working with many of the top creative minds in Italy for two decades.
As photographer for the Milan Cricket Club, he developed experience in capturing human movement, something decidedly useful in the Cyclades project where the female form interacts with her natural surroundings.
Milan also brought about a personal introduction to an internationally famous Italian artist known for his satirical sculptures, an encounter with a decisive impact. Having held regular meetings in an office inside an impressive Liberty style building in the city centre in which a piece of artwork by the celebrated Italian was placed, and even getting locked inside on one occasion by an unknowing caretaker, a natural curiosity arose. The artist was close in presence, i.e. the artwork, but never in person. This changed one winter afternoon when he found him busily writing at a desk and was introduced by a creative director also present. There was an aura of brilliance about the man, highly individual and challenging. As a consequence, Mark began questioning more closely his own ideas about visual expression. The handshake had been significant.
In the late 1990s, he met, by chance, a U.S. President on a beach in the Cyclades. Tall with large hands and powerful eyes, the former leader was welcoming. After talking for some minutes surrounded by the President's many family members and security guards in bathing costumes, Mark, with young son in arms, was introduced by the President to α man sitting close by, who would later become Secretary of State. That unexpected experience was decisive in encouraging him to focus his efforts as high as possible.
Later, he met the psychologist who would model in his photographic work. She inspired in him the desire to express the admiration he feels for the graceful female form, as the Beauty of the Female Kind galleries will attest.
Believing strongly in the value of natural beauty as a gentle but persuasive remedy to life's complexities and, at times, unkind difficulties, experience has shown him the effort is always worth making, no matter how strenuous.
He concludes that beauty invariably triumphs over ugliness and evil; destroy beauty but a flower will grow in the place of destruction, no matter how long it takes. Beauty has a calming effect, it pacifies and produces positive emotions, encourages creativity and benefits relationships; it leads to a more evolved state of natural happiness.
Mark holds dear the memory of the late Professor Angelos Delivorias, who was mentioned previously. Last time they met was at an exhibition of his on Ios island where the Professor complimented the details and chronological value of the panoramic images, encouraging him to have an exhibition in Athens, something he hopes to achieve.
He wishes to openly thank the direction of Apple Inc. for their understanding and highly professional assistance at a particularly difficult moment prior to the presentation of the project to an important cultural entity.