Born in Stoke-on-Trent, England, Mark is the son and grandson of directors of Spode, the fine china manufacturers. As a student at Bristol University in the early 1970’s, Mark read Bernard Leach’s “A Potter’s Book,” and decided to become a studio potter rather than an industrial manager. This decision led to a three year apprenticeship with Michael Cardew, and later another with Todd Piker in Connecticut, where Mark met his wife, Carol.
In 1983 they moved to Pittsboro NC and set up their pottery. Mark built a very large wood-burning kiln and began making the distinctive functional pots for which he is known, specializing in very large planters, vases, and jars, along with finely made smaller items. He uses local clays and blends the different North Carolinian folk traditions together into a contemporary style that has attracted a sizeable following. His work has been featured in the Smithsonian Magazine and on the cover of American Craft magazine, he has written extensively in the ceramic press, and he has exhibited in London, New York, and Tokyo, as well as throughout the US. He is well represented in museum and private collections.
Mark and Nancy Sweezy co-curated the highly-regarded exhibition, “The Potter’s Eye: Art and Tradition in North Carolina Pottery,” at the North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC, October 30, 2005 – March 19, 2006. UNC Press published a superbly illustrated catalogue/book.
Mark and his work were featured extensively in the recent nationwide PBS TV series, “Craft in America,” and he currently has a major exhibition of his big pots at the Nasher Museum, at Duke University in Durham, NC, with the second exhibition, also of big pots, starting January 2011, at the Ogden Museum in New Orleans.