David Mach RA is one of the UK’s most recognised and respected artists working in contemporary art today. Known for his dynamic and imaginative large-scale collage, sculpture and installations using a wide range of materials, including coat hangers, pins, matches, magazines and many others. Mach established his reputation in the 1980s with a series of increasingly ambitious sculptures and installations like 1983's Polaris, a life-size representation of the nuclear-powered submarine made from tyres, at London's Hayward Gallery.
Never content in making ‘easy’ art, Mach continuously challenges not only his physical ability but gravity and perception. He revels in the challenge of the physically demanding character of his works, stating that ‘hard graft never hurt anyone,’ and attributing his need to make physically demanding pieces as a response to growing up in the industrial region of Fife, Scotland. For Mach, the act of making is just as important as the finished article as he strives for a need to overcome the ‘Bohemian’ idea of the artist with their brush and chisel.
Mach’s use of the everyday consumer items in his work is threefold. One, Mach is a self-confessed materials man, who has a fascination with the idea of ‘the stuff of life’ which is so easily overlooked or thrown away. Secondly, such materials are equalisers which reach every type of person. The third is deeper rooted in his rebellious nature in rejecting to refine his tendencies and fall in line with what is expected within the ‘social norm’ of the art world.
‘It’s so careful in the art world. What do you do? How do you do it? Where do you make it? Where do you show? How much do you sell for? Blah, blah, blah and I am very wary of it - the idea of making something with coat hangers is so offensive to that. I like it for that reason.’
Mach finds using such materials as a way of not only injecting humour into his work but reflecting consumerism back onto the viewer.
In keeping with the idea of consumerism and the everyday object, Mach’s recent work has seen him embark on a series of smaller scale collages comprised from cuttings of DC Thomson’s Commando comics, a medium he became acquainted with during his boyhood stating that; ‘Their stories and their drawing inspired me to construct mini epics charged with the energy of the original Thompson drawings.’
Collage has always been part of Mach’s studio practice, using the technique as a way of submitting proposal ideas in a way where others would draw or sketch a design. The most notable of Mach’s collages came in 2011 with his block buster exhibition ‘Precious Light’ where Mach undertook the momentous task of illustrating key moments of the King James Bible. The exhibition coincided with the 400th anniversary of the book’s release. This exhibition also saw Mach awarded the Bank of Scotland Herald Angel Award. The same year, he also won the Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Award for Art.