The Purple View

Reviews, rants and purpleness

Mark Speight Tribute

Posted by Nathan Hardisty on March 11, 2009

Mark Speight 1965-2008

More than likely, you’ve never heard of Mark or you’re American. Which is fine, in all cases, but in this case – if you’re English – I doubt you knew him until last year. Mark Speight was the presenter of a such art TV show called SMart, from 1993 until his death in 2008, he served as a teacher and inspiration to all of us. On 7th April, this year, you won’t notice anything different – I won’t – that faint memory of this article will go by, like you were blank before. But April the 7th marks the¬†anniversary of his death, and the day that all of the young teenagers of England, had an explosion of Nostalgia.

Mark never lost faith in us, with a whisk of his hand he could take us anywhere and show us anything, he was the teacher that we all wanted in our classrooms. Right now, I cannot draw for my life, my art skills are ‘tremendously’ behind most of my school buddies… but I don’t give a dimdamndoddle, because this man taught me something special. Mark, instead of telling us how to draw things, said that our imaginations were the best tool of the world, and no matter how bad a drawer we are – we are all Picasso in our ways.


So where did Mark come from? What did he do and how did he do it? You American dudes are probably trying to get your header around what the guy does… well, back in 1994, the BBC was launching an art programme called ‘SMart’ – which was in direct competition of Art Attack. I think what makes this whole launch special, is that the year it started – was the year I was born. I followed SMart from when I was 3 and until I lost my faith in my art skills, and sat back with my creativity gained. What this programme taught me, I’ll carry on for the rest of my life, because I just about followed Mark from start to finish.

So, instead of barging in aware o only a 3 season lifetime, Mark Speight moulded the programme. Instead of teaching us art, he taught us how to listen and to explore our creative pools. This is the man that just about made me switch from wannabe editor to writer, ‘cos a couple of years ago I had a choice in my mind to edit or to write – I decided to listen to my nostalgia, thusly, I remembered the creative plug that Mark jammed into my head. SMart, instead of running a 3 year season, overtook just about the whole of mainstream art television, and thus entered the golden book.

Magic at work

So came the next 6 years, ¬†Mark was there all the time, dishing out creative tips and put-ups to new generations. We weren’t learning art skills when were watching SMart, we were learning to express ourselves in any creative means. SMart went on for years, and even as Mark extended into other areas, the spin-offs and general show kept the whole vibe going. Art Attack was crushed in the ratings and we were all fumbling for the paper when Mark came on, even though our end results were never as good as his. SMart would never be anything without this man, and I can bet that he is the reason most of us remember this programme.

Now comes the sad part. In 2008, in January, Mark Speight’s girlfriend – Natasha Collins – was found dead from burns and a drug overdose, lying in the bathtub of her flat. The whole event crushed him, and the BBC pulled off his SMart duties for a while. After being suspected of her murder, he began to break down, he detached from SMart but did never ever never ever lose faith in the creativity of us. At the time, I had long lost faith in my artistic skills, I was just through high-school… when I heard the news he went missing… I was shocked… when I heard the news he was dead… I cried.

Almost a year had passed before I remembered the man. The man who shaped my creativity and told me, that I was just as capable as anyone else. I do dare believe, and share, and write. That this man, of artistic talent and just general magic… made our childhood’s sparkle and shine, our futures prosper with creativity… and made art… SMart.

Anybody can draw

Mark Speight


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: