Martin Vallis
portrait of howard hodgkin the space of desire the picture of dorian grey
the dream of life (a.k.a. in the steps of jackson pollock. see awards) a shepherd sky wilderness
the post traumatic zone framed scene with interfering element significance with purity
aesthetic peacock construction (see awards) conclusion of desire when worlds collide (see awards)



Martin Vallis

The Man

Studied Visual Communication at Medway College of Art and Design from 1976-79, moving to London in 1980. After working as a Photographic Assistant to Commercial Photographer Gary Bryan for 3 years, he set up his own studio in Chelsea in 1983, that specialised in high-quality still life photography, in the areas of Advertising, Design and Editorial. Martin also shot stills on TV and Cinema commercials, primarily with directors Howard Guard and Ridley Scott (Alien/Blade Runner/Gladiator). Some of Martin’s clients included, British Airways, BMW, Volkswagen and Selfridges.

While working in the commercial world Martin’s style evolved, resulting in tightly- cropped, close-up work, mostly utilising Tungsten lighting, to enhance texture and detail.

Two decades later Martin departed from commercial photography, concentrating on his own vision.

When asked to talk about his images, he hesitates and says to do so would require him to open himself up to potential criticism, ultimately leaving him vulnerable. Yet he agrees but wishes to provide context, alongside a revealing of his life experienced and adds laughing, perhaps a warning the next paragraph may be a shock for some.

He says his personal life has often been chaotic and catastrophic. It’s been a challenge with a number of suicide attempts, mental breakdowns, psychiatric and detox hospitals, rehab and mental health treatment centres.

The biggest barrier for Martin was why he found life so traumatic and why he had overwhelming difficulties relating to everyone and everything. For long periods no answers were forthcoming. That changed in 2006 - whilst in a mental health treatment centre – when he received a diagnosis of Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder alongside Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The insight provided him an epiphany: things finally began to make sense.

As a result of this, Martin has been clean and sober for thirteen years. He now works part-time as an expert by experience trainer for mental health professionals in an effort to improve practises in regards to Personality Disordered individuals. This is a role he thoroughly enjoys and believes it has provided him additional insight.

Martin understands that some may not appreciate his honesty, but continues, when he reads something about a person he may momentarily be impressed by the Art College or University they went to or the awards or successes they’ve had but in truth he’s more interested in the ‘Tortured Genius’ that tells you far more about a person.

The Art

Leaves & Texture

Are Martin’s many personalities, states of mind, emotions, the fragility of his life. They reflect his struggles, the heart of him, his essence, raw, scary, beautiful - often, all at once. Leaves represent the ‘Cycle of Life and Death’. Buddhists proclaim, when we accept the inevitability of Death, we can begin to enjoy life, Martin agrees unreservedly.


Are his Darkness.

Art City & Street

Ask not to be taken at face value. Martin acknowledges some labels can be helpful referring to his diagnosis but attaching labels to people, objects; assuming, judgements are often superfluous - for we do not take the time to evaluate. From experience Martin strives to see the whole not a snapshot. Like photography, people and objects can be revealed when provided the time and patience to develop. However, this requires stillness, such as is found in a gallery. It is in this environment our experience of urban landscapes can be truly appreciated. We see the same subject in a different light. Martin invites his viewers to linger-taking a second glance, to look more deeply, whilst encouraging playful imagination.


The car has long been of interest-especially those of the classic American and European types from the middle 20th Century. Indeed, Martin has owned a few. They appeal to his love of design. They’re also his fantasy, his ego: a reflection of society’s desire and obsession with materialism. They also provide escapism. The artist took this away from the steering wheel and into the streets – capturing the car not in its entirety but focussing on its colour and shape.


Throughout his career, Martin’s style has changed, yet there remains the ever-constant preference for simplicity of solitary objects, reflecting texture and shape: less is more. Society may spend time looking for the ‘Big Picture’ whilst missing the ‘Beauty of Simplicity’. He feels it portrays a deeply felt sense of isolation, solitude and emptiness. The artist is eager to conclude he now understands those feelings are more to do with his condition over reality.

Martin's prints are for sale at Artfinder and Saatchi Art

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Mob: 07975871231

Images © Martin Vallis