W. Mark Wilman in Profile
Discovering the Beauty of the Cyclades by W. Mark Wilman 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. It was presented by the Greek Embassy in Rome and British Embassy in Athens on their social media platforms, as well as by leading journals in both nations (see the Media page).
The project, now in its sixth year, has been proposed to UNESCO to encourage the protection of the archipelago for future generations.
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 in language 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 Visitor galleries; Università degli Studi di Milano (University of Milan) where he lectured to PhDs, researchers and professors; national and multinational organisations in a variety of sectors, particularly the legal field and advertising where he collaborated with leading 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 four star general 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 and Visitor 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, former director of the Benaki Museum in Athens for over forty years and a leading archeologist in Greece. The Professor's explanations about antiquity over the two decades they knew each other were of great help during his exploration of the Cyclades and the creation of this project. Last time they met was at an exhibition of his on Ios island where the Professor complimented the details and chronological value of the images, encouraging Mark to have an exhibition in Athens, which he hopes to achieve.
He wishes to openly thank the direction of Apple Inc. for their understanding and highly professional assistance at a particular moment prior to the presentation of the project to an important cultural entity.