Miro Tomarkin is an artist who uses his art as a lens to explore themes of identity and displacement from personal experience and uses it as a tool to dissect socio-political issues. He is particularly interested in the provocative power in art and how it can be utilized to penetrate to a deep part of the self in both the viewer and the painter. Miro believes in exploring the self and his art demonstrates an interest as to how experience can be translated into a common ground of understanding by exploring the various human senses. All his art is open to interpretation – it’s about evoking the overlapping experiences of people, but not negating the individuality of each. Bringing the personal aspect of art is fundamental to his work; art telling a story is the central mantra that acts as the driving force behind all his work. His mission as an artist extends to emphasizing art as a universal language, one that is for everyone, and he reflects that in his participation in community work. He therefore enjoys a mixture of exhibiting his works, having done so at major venues across places such as London, Oxford, and Vienna, as well as his passion to contribute to the arts within communities, which he is able to achieve in his current roles as a Facilitator and Keeper at The White House. He also was Curator, and Artist-in-Residence at the Boathouse Studios, as well as Director on the Boathouse Board from 2014 – 2018. Further to this he was a panel member for Landmarks Commissioning (London Borough Barking and Dagenham), as well as roles on various other panels. Now he concentrates on his own art and his role at the Whitehouse Dagenham (East-London)
Life and Experience: An Insight into Miro’s Outlook/personal short Biography
To get a brief insight into this artists personality – one can’t do that without mentioning at least a tiny part of his family and personal history.
Here is an extremely simplified and condensed Family History:
His family (Tomarkin) is connected to the Italian Part of Switzerland on the Mediterranean side of the Alps. He comes from a Sephardic Jewish family whose movements can be traced from the middle East to Portugal, Spain, and Italy, Then Russia, where they were in the minority Sephardic community (Kiev, Moscow, Belarus to Eastern Prussia – Then Königsberg, now Kalinigrad – from there to Zürich then Rome. Next move London and back to Rome, then Ticino a village called Intragna (near Locarno). Miro himself was Born in Munich, Germany, to his parents – the father a Jewish British citizen who served the British during WWII and beyond as member of the intelligence community – but leaving the services and then living in Italy, Spain, Austria, and Germany. His wife 30 years younger than her husband (artists mother) was the daughter of Eastern European Ashkenazy Jews.
Miro the artist went then to initially growing up in Austria living with his maternal Grand Parents before being transported to Switzerland (with a British and a Swiss Passport). In later life as a grownup, he was moving to England where he is now settled, Miro has experienced a life which has often felt displaced. Identity conflicts arose from living an often-displaced life, whether in place, thought (thinking in one language and having to speak in another), as well as feeling a sense of isolation from a turbulent and abusive home life, and then the difficulties of being in children’s homes. Miro’s life has often been that of being on the fringe of society, and always being on the outside, looking in. Yet, despite circumstance ostracizing him he somehow always remained in the center of situations, both socially with his peers, and in institutions. At 11 years old he met his future wife in school from the neighbouring Girls Children’s Home. They lost sight of one another but were reunited in their early 20’s. Just turning 20 Years old, he went back to school and added to art an IT scientific programming degree, subsequently embarking on a successful career starting in chief operating, Programming, project/IT management, systems analysis and so on. . Art took the “back seat” as being a single dad to his first son David who suffered from Cystic Fibrosis took center stage and meant a steady stream of income was required to lead a life to comfortably incorporate all the demands this was imposing. 15 Years later, Life took another turn. “Outside World” was a term re-introduced into his life – as he fell ill from advanced metastasized cancer. Not knowing if he would see the next year – undergoing aggressive Chemo-Therapy – He made the decision to embark on an art career – something he originally wanted to do – long before IT. But firstly, he would slip between phases of isolation and involvement with people. A longer spell of isolation followed due to metastasized cancer in his mid-thirties; illness and ghosts of his past “catching up” spurred on a period of intense reclusion. On top of this his first-born son passed away, succumbing to his Cystic Fibrosis. These events triggered a response of extraordinarily intense creativity – more so than ever before. Creating art and exhibiting them Nationally as well as internationally. However, the only socialization from this were those brief events of exhibition vernissages (Opening events).
Fairly recent this process of emerging from those difficult years has created a new motivation in him. He’s now embarking on a new endeavor, ‘Social Arts,’ which is getting him out of his isolation with vengeance.
His experience of “jumping” from the outskirts of society, then taking center stage and achieving power in the offices of big multinational companies to totally transforming to the current version of himself – no matter how troubled circumstances have been have made him, according to his own words into the personality he is today. Events have the power to make one feel isolated, on the fringe, and having a fissured identity. But has allowed him to also find the opposite in his outlook. Miro likes to explore the dualities of these experiences and to re-conceptualize a fissure or boundary as an area that both pushes apart and pulls together, experiencing both: battles and reconciliation of identities, pain and beauty, light and darkness, the outer experience of society and inner life, etc. It is in discovering these dualities that Miro emphasizes the transformative power of the individual to see the dynamic relationship of the inner and outer worlds. Experiences have the capacity to both colour our lens outside and inwardly, and despite negative experiences one can find that the inner world holds the ability to find the colour in the outer world.
His engagement in/with the Whitehouse Dagenham, is his current passion. Just as it went into an interesting phase, in which planning and first steps to turn the House into a COOP gaining momentum, tragedy struck again. Just before “lock-down” due to Covid-19 Pandemic his oldest daughter Claire passed away, after short and severe illness – succumbing to advanced, aggressive Breast Cancer.
He continues his work as an artist and his engagement with social arts, currently at the Whitehouse Dagenham.
All his art works engage people via a socio-political commentary, as well as one of the inner selves. Having himself been born into tragedy and experienced unjust structures, he emphasizes the importance of bringing these issues into light. The role of an artist, for him, is to look at the areas of society that are overlooked and providing a voice to those who have had theirs stripped away from living on the fringes of society. His art by nature is political and he believes that art should be a springboard for discussions of changes in the real world.