Chromacolour acrylic on MDF board. 45x60cm. Completed 23 January 2012. Prints available. Photo by Christopher Morgan-Jones.
For Mark the Astute series of paintings represents an opportunity to explore two of his passions. One is that of modern manufacturing and the other is pacifism. By painting the most modern, powerful, example of military might - the nuclear powered attack submarine he can explore the conflict involved in coming to grips with an unwavering moral code.
On the one hand pacifists like Mark abhor violence, yet maintain the right of self defence. It is exactly where a person (or a nation) draws the line that must be crossed before resorting to violence that is the real moral question at hand. Mark realises that if his country (Australia) were ever seriously facing the prospects of military invasion he would be amongst the first to answer the call to arms. However it is the concept 'of that line to be crossed' is where Mark is at odds with mainstream thinking. He maintains that all to often governments, hand in hand with the 'industrial military complex', go to war far to easily. Very rarely are wars truly initiated by nations in actual self defence.
Despite all the moral judgments the HMS Astute is a perfect example of how advanced manufacturing technology has come. In later paintings of the Astute series the focus is on the construction taking place in the assembly halls of BAE systems.In all of the Astute series Mark gets to once again depict what he calls the 'surface of things' in a fascinating display of photorealistic painting techniques. There are many similarities between Mark's photorealism and the verisimilitude offered by the seventeenth century Dutch artists.
Information about the Astute class
The HMS Astute is a nuclear-powered submarine in the Royal Navy. It is an outstanding achievement of modern engineering. Her builders BAE systems boast that it is “the largest and most able attack submarine that the Royal Navy has operated, with a performance to rival any in the world”. HMS Astute was launched on 8th June 2007. The submarine is 323 feet long has a beam of 37 feet and a draught of 33 feet. It also weighs 7400 tonnes. She is capable of hitting 29 knots (54 kph) and has a crew of 98. The HMS Astute is nuclear powered and its powerplant never needs refueling and the limitation for time away from port comes down to the supply of food on board. Her service life is 25 years.
The HMS Astute is capable of destroying other ships and submarines with torpedo’s as well as launching her Raytheon Tomahawk Block III land-attack cruise missile’s. These missiles utilise high explosive warheads and do not use nuclear warheads. The Tomahawks can fly 2,500 km at 880 kph. This makes the HMS Astute a formidable weapon.