John Mercer. (MJK MERCER)

I trained in unusual ways. Yes - there was art school (Cardiff Art School 1973 to 1976) but I’m not sure that that was what informed my work. It rather depends on whether we speak of content or technique. Technique follows content and content is the residue of life. When I was in Art school busy learning techniques I had little to say, little that demanded visual form (I worked more in abstract music and sounds – a practice in which I did have clear ideas). Later as I found the things that demanded image making, I reached out to the techniques – which were not far away.

Technique and practice come more easily when they are needed. I found that learning to handle materials was relatively straight forward.

Sculptural Materials

I have been handling what is humorously called “resistant Materials” by schools today, all my life. I had an early facility with wood and metal giving me the thing that matters most in technique – for it not to be a problem. Fluid handling of materials is an essential part of art practice.

Mark Making Materials

Often called drawing or painting of course, but the term has a somewhat pre-loaded notion of what it might entail. I like to find new materials and methods of making marks to excite the line, to excite the eye into seeing in a different way.

Sound Sculpture

I was allowed near the highest level of technology available in the world at the time I was in college. I was let loose on an EMS Synthi100, a vast £500,000 electronic synthesiser, as well as four track tape recorders and so on. I think they let me play because I was one of the few people who understood it and could get sounds out of it – but far more important was the imperative to make abstract sounds as sculptures. Sounds which would evolve like a slow dance over time, channelled through four loudspeakers into performance spaces for dance groups. This practice continues and under another menu heading are examples of my sound works, now more informed by technique and life experience.


I’m drawn to ideas that merge unrelated phenomena or images into a single form but which – in communion, give rise to something new that resonates with the viewer. The ideas and forms are abstract, but they are drawn from the experiential world and,

I got distracted

It is a tragedy that so many creative people get drawn into day jobs to be able to live. There are some who might argue that it is an essential part of the artists development. Hmm. I was distracted often by the need to earn. Projects got suspended for long periods and ideas still lie in notebooks. I’m not distracted anymore.