So you have to know that someone who has family heritage going back to the days of Odin has got to have some kind of fascination with mythology and heroes. I would too if I had knighthoods shaking out of every side of the family tree. That isn’t all though. It seems today’s subject, Mark Maitland, has a fascination with restoration and the ’50’s too. In fact that is how I first saw some beautiful artwork and asked (without trying to sound like a stalker) if I could interview him. I was so glad to find out he was a willing target 🙂
Mark tells of family hailing from both Nordic and Swedish descent (blonde blue eyed vikings must abound in this family). There is a very strong military history in this family and hence the knighthoods on both sides of the family. The great trek was made by his grandmother when her father, a Colonel with the Salvation Army, took his family on a trip though Africa . By the time they had travailed from the North to South, his grandmother could speak 14 languages and write 12. This remarkable woman fell in love with the country and decided to stay. But these are no foreigners, even if they are proud of their Nordic and Swede heritage. Nope, they form part of the 1820 settlers of this land and lived a hard life to stay alive.
In Nordic history, where both women and men alike fought in battle, it was believed that if you had fought bravely and well, you were carried in death to the halls of Valhalla by one of the Valkyrie. These were considered beautiful and strong woman whom would appear as lovers of heroes and mortals and were sometimes referred to as royalty. If you were among the chosen you celebrated along with other warriors in Valhalla and were served mead and feasted (I feel this is more exciting for the guys though….although picturing Chris Hemsworth helps a bit).
I ask Mark about his tattoos and what motivated him to tattoo these particular women on his body. He tells me of his mother fondly, saying she was a strong woman who raised three boys by herself while holding down two jobs. In fact, he feels that he has always had strong women in his life. This is one of the motivating factors when he met and married his wife. He has admiration for the fact that his wife is a strong woman, amazing wife and great mother.
Mark tells me that when his mother passed away due to cancer, he decided to commemorate the memory of her life with a tattoo and the restoration of an Apache truck. The tattoo he chose in remembrance of his Mother was the Dia de Muertos piece with a sugar skull included. Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) is traditionally a time when people gather to remember loved ones that have passed away and celebrate their lives. After searching for the right artist for sometime he settled on KwaZulu-Natal based Lynne Holder at The Tattooed Goddess Tattoo Studio. The wait was worth it. The tattoo is very detailed in the depiction of the sugar skull, eye makeup and stitching across the lips, right down to the roses and beads and even includes a reference to his son in the initials.
In going about work on the truck the restoration bug also bit. Apparently quite hard. Mark is currently holding down a number of projects in his spare time while increasing his vintage stash which now includes 2 vintage pinball machines, a vintage fridge, Coca Cola machine and 2 juke boxes. “When you have one, it tends to get lonely, so you need another” he laughs. Looking at the beautiful restoration of the old Fritos truck (remember the yellow one in the tv ads on the beach) you can see that this is something that means a lot to Mark. The truck funnily enough was originally made in little old Pietermaritzburg, but reminds Mark of spending family holidays on a huge farm with this grandfather when he was a child. It’s those memories of happily working and playing on the farm along with his family along with his love for the ’50’s that also inspired his next two art projects. The Valkyrie on his left leg hearkening to his Norwegian heritage and the 1952 Wonderwoman on his right leg as a tribute to his wife. Both are super detailed and look as if someone has taken a photo and smoothed it onto his body.
Although part of the military tradition in his family is part of his life having been a platoon Sergeant in the army, he seems like a relaxed and congenial guy who is happy to talk and share stories. He does tend to take to adrenalin sports like flying airplanes in shows and shooting, but hey, we all have our small joys in life 🙂
Altogether, this allowed me a great opportunity to see how your heritage and art combined can be translated from ages old to a modern canvas to be remembered.
I wonder how many civilisations have used pictures and art to relay their stories to generations?
Well, that’s all for this week folks. See you on the road…
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