Monica Marshall (a.k.a. CLOWNCHIC)
BIOGRAPHY AND STATEMENT
Monica Marshall (born 17 November 1997) is a multidisciplinary artist favouring drawing and printmaking. Her practice serves as a catharsis to the more grotesque aspects of reality, responding to current issues such as government corruption, consumerism and the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as nodding to her own personal struggles, including being autistic and having IBS. Marshall is also known as Clownchic, based on making fun of herself as a person: including her appearance and style, her large feet and her clumsiness – ‘clown but make it fashion’.
Marshall enjoys playing with the juxtaposition of ‘fine art’ materials alongside ‘low art’ imagery using disgusting recurring motifs and characters to represent the issues she discusses in her work, as well as considering the argument of what actually makes those concepts. This is one of the reasons she chose the Print Media pathway on the MLitt in Fine Art Practice; her favourite method of printmaking is etching, and it works well within her practice due to the ‘traditional’, meticulous process and perception of it, but the end result is something horrendous once the process is complete.
Despite some of the more serious subjects present in Marshall’s practice, she aims to veer on the more amusing side of shocking and portray them in a more tongue-in-cheek and lighthearted manner without downplaying the hideous absurdity. As we say, you can either laugh or cry!
'Big Bastard 5'
'Party Poopers Act 2' (4)
'Buy One, Get One Free! (4)'
Degree Show Installation – SUMMER OF STENCH
I aimed for the work I presented in the physical GSA Postgraduate Showcase in Stow College (20/8/21 – 26/8/21) to represent my multidisciplinary nature; this includes etchings, mixed media pieces on found surfaces and screenprints on bedding. The bedding pieces were created during my residency at Print Clan (22/6/21 – 25/6/21), whilst the etchings were made in the workshop at Stow College, and the paintings were done on discarded mirrors.
I gave half of the pieces in the show titles in their own right, but the idea of ‘Summer of Stench’ came about from the motifs present in my fabric screenprints, where the text ‘Mr Whiffy Ltd’ gazes up at a fly eyeballing an ice cream cone, but it’s a sweetcorn-infested turd inside the cone instead instead. ‘Mr Whiffy’ is simply a play on the term ‘Mr Whippy’, partly due to the swirly, caricature turd appearance of the ice creams themselves, but also due to the use of urea often being present in cheap vanilla flavourings, and urea is found in urine.
The mirrors were a fairly spontaneous decision; I felt they tied in with a lot of the domestic, societal themes and settings that often feature in my work, especially with them being on domestic surfaces. This is also why I chose bedding for my fabric samples at Print Clan, along with finding the soaked and damaged chair that I positioned one of these mirror pieces upon.
Sculptural elements began to feature a little more over the course of Stage 3. I had the idea of stuffing an actual duvet into one of my duvet cover pieces and giving it a lumpy appearance similar to a bin bag or an overstuffed nappy, especially with the colour scheme. Along with this more sculptural nature of the central hanging duvet piece, I took a risk and added a more fiddly, complex one to one of the other mirrors despite having reservations as to whether or not it was ‘too much’ or if it would stay stuck to it. However, I’m glad it paid off and that I chose to be a little more ambitious in the guidelines and circumstances we had to work around.
A selection of a few of my etchings produced during my time of study here at GSA. Etching is probably my preferred medium due to the repetitive nature pairing well with my use of recurring motifs and characters, as well as the traditional and meticulous nature creating a fun contrast between the disgusting and offensive imagery and subject matter. I have always been a fan of toilet humour regardless of whether it is perceived as ‘childish’, and I enjoy the juxtaposition of studying art at a higher education level and working with high-risk materials and creating the work I make, with the result arguably bordering on the deranged whilst retaining that comical, lighthearted edge. This reminds us that there is still a funny side to some of the downfalls we may face. One of my favourite ways to produce an etching is through using chine-colle; I have often used newspapers within my practice due to their relevance in society, biased nature and possessing the element of the ‘found object’, and I have found these work especially well within the absurd yet political aspects of my practice, as well as adding an interesting contrast against the etched lines.
The Big Bastard – a balaclava-clad humanoid figure – is a prominent figure within my practice, representing a physical manifestation of everything wrong in humanity as well as myself. I came up with this motif around early 2020, and as time has gone on it has devolved into something even more revolting and monstrous as time has gone on. This nods to the sense of disillusion I have often felt with age, whether it is something physical, or simply becoming more aware and outraged yet desensitised to reality.
Additionally, other characters often make appearances, whether they’re alongside the Big Bastard(s), each other or characters in their own right. Bananas have been a recent recurring theme simply due to the visceral disgust I have had towards them ever since I was a child, and I am finding the humour within that. Flies are another common character; I have been fascinated by them since childhood, and due to their association with disease, decay and pestilence, I found them an appropriate motif to play with during the continuous presence of coronavirus. Similar to the Big Bastard, they became more bloated and festering as time went on.
Ballpoint Pen Drawings
I have always been an impulsive and prolific worker, but during my time on the MLitt I tried to focus more on refining my motifs and applying more detail to emphasise the points I make and strengthen the messages behind them. Drawing in ballpoint pen in sketchbooks made an interesting substitute for some of the restrictions in access to the printmaking workshop, and they also helped me focus on the finer details so that I would be able to use that method within my printmaking. However, you can still see that bit of roughness where the binder is present from where the drawing has been torn from the book.
I have often exhibited work where all the pieces touch one another, and this nods to my autism and viewing many aspects of existence as a massive sensory overload, but it also allows the pieces to connect and almost create one large scale, stand alone piece. I also notoriously avoid framing my work where possible; this celebrates the raw, impulsive nature I tend to possess when I make my work, along with the playful, lighthearted aura of my practice despite the more gruesome elements and subject matter. Nevertheless, if anyone personally wants to frame my work if they are in possession of it, they are very welcome to!