This is my portrait of Mark Ormrod MBE, created for the BBC One TV show Extraordinary Portraits.
More accurately it was produced by Mason, Evie and me. It was a genuine privilege to meet and spend time with Mark. Mark is former Royal Marine who while on a routine foot patrol in Afghanistan in 2007 triggered an improvised explosive device. After life saving work from fast thinking doctors it was decided that for Mark to survive they would need to remove both of his legs above the knee and one arm above the elbow. Mark is the first triple amputee in the UK to survive the Afghanistan conflict.
I can’t begin to imagine what Mark then had to go through to rehabilitate both physically and mentally. He has an extraordinary ability to turn negatives into positives and has not just overcome this adversity but has also gone on to raise more than £500,000 for the charity REORG. In 2021 he won Fundraiser of The Year at Pride of Britain Awards. He has won multiple gold medals at the Invictus Games and was awarded an MBE. He is a motivational speaker, author, BJJ Blue Belt and is the most inspiring, positive and energising person to spend time with.
A huge support to Mark is his family, who I was also lucky enough to meet on the show. I wanted to include them in the portrait some how, so I asked his son Mason and youngest daughter Evie to help me by painting an abstract background on my canvas. The theory being it would represent the unpredictable chaotic nature of life, as I wouldn’t have any control over it, then Mark would emerge from the background symbolising him overcoming the disruption and challenges that life has thrown at him. I gave Mason and Evie some colours and paint brushes but didn’t instruct them so they could be free with their mark making. They did an amazing job.
Mason used green as a nod to the beret Mark had earned the right to wear as a Royal Marine Commando. I didn’t feel it was right for me to specifically reference 2007 and wasn’t planning to at all, but then Evie made a beautiful big swirl of orange and yellow on the canvas which I felt could symbolise those events and maybe even reclaim it in a positive artistic way.
The artistic challenge then was to make my painting style work and not jar with the background, so I reflected the saturated palette the kids used back into Mark’s face and replicated some of their mark making.