Mark Mushet

Born in North Vancouver in 1963, Mark Mushet has created images in one form or another since 1985. He first worked in film and video, producing arts documentaries and shorts for television. In the late '80s he began to take a serious interest in still photography. His first projects in this field merged macro images with New Music for a series of live slide-projection performances. By 1995, Mushet had established a career in editorial, design and fine-art photography. He has contributed award-winning portraits of cultural, entertainment, business and sports personalities to a variety of Canadian magazines. He is currently the visual-arts photographer for The Georgia Straight and produces images for contemporary-music packaging. Mushet's fine-art photography is inspired by abstract impressionism, in particular, the work of German painter Gerhard Richter. "I'm interested in the way Richter's painting is highly seductive, multi-layered, and seems to hover between the mediums of painting and photography. Even his figurative work has this sense about it."
Artist Statement

Lotus Land continues in the floral photographic tradition established long ago by the likes of Karl Blossfeldt et al. and reflects my ongoing interest in working with subject matter connected in some way to life in the Pacific Northwest.

The source material for Lotus Land is the decaying seedpod of the lotus plant which is native to Asia and India. I am less interested in the science and/or sheer beauty of the subject than I am in its suggestion of relentless dispersion through ingenious means and its evocation of unworldly landscapes and life forms.

I’ve captured the subject at the point where it begins the process of degeneration/regeneration. As it decays, openings in the top of the pod widen to release the seeds suspended within. During this process, the green flesh of the pods turns an ashen blue-grey and they begin to contract. The stem supporting the pod weakens and the head tilts. The seeds are then free to find their way in the currents.

The west coast of southern British Columbia has an enormous immigrant population from Asia and the Indian subcontinent. As such there is a great deal of cultural diversity and collision – the result of dispersed populations eventually coming to largely settle in the area of a fertile delta. The area has also been given the nickname Lotus Land.

Though the precise origin of the slang is disputed, the Canadian Oxford dictionary defines Lotus Land as “a place of indolent enjoyment.” It is often heard in both pejorative and begrudgingly envious tones in reference to the “laid back” lifestyle of the west coast. The historical reality of the area, however, is one of a place settled after considerable hardship and against harsh odds, much like the journey of a seed in a current. Despite this, the living is relatively easy and natural beauty abundant.

It is, in short, a plant with seductive and spiritual properties – it is considered sacred by Hindus and Buddhists – with a unique connection the west coast of Canada.