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About the Art: Mark Fairnington

With just a week left in our campaign to bring Mark Fairnington's exhibition here, we spoke to Mark about his artwork Doncombe Aga Khan.

What I wanted is something that wherever you are, you've got a sense of this physical presence.

This is a very large painting, very detailed. How did you go about painting it?

"I'd say it's very like taxidermy. You start with an internal structure and then you build out, add the fine details and so on.

When painting, I like the way the brushwork highlights all the different aspects of a subject. Some of them are like lines that wrap around the shape and give a sense of volume, and then you come up to the ear and they just become hairs, it's quite a free flowing process"

You've removed the background, the bull is almost cut out. Why?

"The only bit that I really had to think about was whether to have some little shadows under the bull or not. In the end, I decided to go for something that's an ambiguous space, it's not like a real space.

The painting that I was thinking of was a painting by Stubbs called Whistlejacket, which is a huge painting of a horse. He has these little shadows underneath the hooves."

  • Doncombe Aga Khan, Mark Farnington, Doncombe Aga Khan, detail− © Mark Farnington
    Doncombe Aga Khan, detail

This painting of a bull is one of six you've made, isn't it?

"Yes, in this series of six paintings, called The Bulls, they all face the same way. They're all exactly life size. They're all on canvases of the same height.

It's like postcards or cigarette cards or something like that, but with fine details and rendered in life size proportions. There's also an element of ambiguity, the work looks realistic, but also they are framing knowledge and information in an original, and quite abstract, way."


We want to stage an exhibition of Mark's paintings here at the Horniman later this year - and we need your help to make it happen. Donate now and you'll get great rewards