Mark Rowney’s artworks are so intricate and detailed, it is difficult to believe they have been created out of leather. But they have, each new piece now painstakingly carved in his recently completed Weardale studio.

High on a hillside in Ireshopeburn, much of this artist's hideaway and workspace has also been carefully crafted from leather - the patchwork tablecloth, the multi-coloured bench, the blinds, the door panels. Metal moths and butterflies, and tiles in the bathroom and kitchen bear testament to his other artistic talents.

But it's leatherwork that is his passion, and he's at the top of his game. He loves its tradition and its discipline.

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“I just do sculptural leatherwork now – probably the most interesting work I’ve ever done,” he says. “It’s a very old craft. It's very popular in America – I would say 80 per cent of my commissions are from America – but actually, it’s a very ancient English craft as well. There are not many exponents of it and I always just saw there was a gap in terms of what was being produced, and that was the more artistic way of working.”

From small scale pieces, Mark has been upscaling and working on a new collection made up of leather sculptures to serve as art for interiors. And it took him the best part of a year to carve out his beautiful new studio . “I have burned the candle at both ends, trying to complete the interior,” he says. “It’s not a huge space but I have tried to incorporate my love of the Arts and Crafts movement with my own take on contemporary leather work. I have designed all the tile work, leather panelled doors and walls, lighting sconces, leather table covers, etched fan lights and various sculptures. It’s the culmination of 30 years of leather carving.”

His plan is to run small classes with accommodation and continue to produce his own increasingly detailed work. "It is extremely satisfying for me to pass on the knowledge that I have attained over the past 35 years working with leather," he says. "With this in mind, I am running workshops for large and small groups, businesses, schools and individuals. I hope to enliven people's imaginations and to impart many leather tooling and construction techniques."

Often spending 18 hours at a time in his workshop and working seven days a week, to Mark, his art is his life – he simply couldn’t exist without it. He describes his inspiration as “the bees that sting me, the midges that bite me and the birds that sing so sweetly”, yet isn’t content simply to represent the wildlife around him, preferring to explain and interpret it. “When you observe nature, even the lowliest bugs and the greatest birds have their own stories and idiosyncrasies,” he says.

Ultimately, Mark considers himself profoundly fortunate. “It’s never been about making a living for me,” he says. “I’m now 55 and I’m still here doing what I want to do. If I have another 15 or 20 years doing what I want to do, then I will have succeeded.”

For more information on Mark’s work and workshops, visit rowneyartandleather.com; T: 01388- 537637; E: info@rowneyartandleather.com