CATHARSIS / ANTHROPOMORPHIC / PROLIFIC / SLOVENLY / CONTINUOUSLY
Monica Marshall (a.k.a Clownchic) is an MLitt Fine Art student specialising in Print Media at GSA. Challenging the traditional media she uses, Monica shares her thoughts behind the absurd, excremental characters and scenarios she produces.
Tell us a bit about yourself and where you're based.
I’m currently based in Glasgow studying a Master of Letters in Fine Art Practice with a specialism in Print Media at GSA, and I’m also a 2020 graduate from York St John University for my BA in Fine Art. I was originally born in Gateshead in the North East of England, but I spent many years in Brighton before moving to York for my undergraduate degree, which explains my somewhat soupy Geordie/Yorkshire accent! A large portion of my practice serves as a humorous, grotesque catharsis responding to the more unpleasant aspects of society such as consumerism as well as my own struggles, and my obsessive tendencies as an autistic individual are reflected in my repetitive methods and motifs.
What do you make & how do you make it?
I would definitely consider myself to be a multidisciplinary maker, but my preferred mediums are drawing and printmaking, especially etching. I am fascinated by the concept of a juxtaposition of stereotypical ‘fine art’ materials versus ‘low art’ imagery, therefore I enjoy using a traditional, complex method such as etching using high-quality materials, whilst portraying intensely detailed, hideous characters and scenarios that become worse the more you focus on them. Printmaking in itself is a repetitive process, therefore I feel that it ties in with my motifs. A prominent character is the Big Bastard, a masked, androgynous being that represents everything gross about existence and sentience, as well as anthropomorphic, monstrous flies and toilets that respond to poor hygiene, the COVID crisis and my personal experience of living with IBS as an attempt to laugh at myself a little. I have always been entertained by toilet humour and it’s funny to look back on over the years; as a child I constantly drew turds/bums/farts et cetera and I used to leave them in random places and show them to people to create a reaction, and in a way I’ve continued this into my studies and professional development.
What has been your biggest challenge to navigate?
One of the challenges I have faced so far is the limited access to the print facilities at university, especially since it’s the core of my specialism in my MLitt, so I’ve been grateful for whatever I’ve been able to get. Some of the more personal setbacks I constantly face is my IBS and autism and how they impact me physically and mentally. However, my struggles tend to fuel my practice, so in a way it’s almost good for me to have a lot going on, and some of them actually enable me to be focused, prolific and passionate when creating.
How do you think your practice sits in today's context?
The rise of COVID-19 caused my work to become more humorous and grotesque, and this allows me to showcase the horror of the situation whilst presenting it in a more tongue-in-cheek manner to avoid my practice becoming too literal and obvious. It is very much a satirical, social commentary on society and how we can all be slovenly and disgusting from time to time. It also brings attention to using mediums that are often considered to be traditional and respectable with absurd imagery, and plays with the aforementioned concepts of what makes an artwork high or low art. As many of us say, you can either laugh or cry!
What's next on your practice-agenda? Goals, projects or any upcoming shows perhaps?
Hopefully I will be able to embark on applying for the practice-led PhD here at GSA, and my ideal career would be to be a specialist printmaking technician and/or a tutor in higher Fine Art education, as I enjoy helping people and encouraging their own practice to grow whilst continuing and honing my own practice. I will be undertaking a residency over at Print Clan in the near future, and it’ll be interesting to apply my motifs to screenprinting and textiles and try something completely new. In addition to this, I continuously apply for open calls and zines too, so keep an eye on my social media and my Wordpress blog (clownchic.wordpress.com) for further updates!
Favourite studio food?
I don’t eat while I’m in the printmaking room for health and safety reasons. But if I’m not doing anything too hazardous, then I can’t go wrong with a good bottle of red and a bag of posh crisps. Although I’ll eat anything as long as it’s vegetarian and doesn’t contain bananas, olives or raisins!
Something interesting you have seen this week?
Honestly, I’ve had a relatively lazy week getting some much-needed rest, but I found the expanding foam that’s recently been used to fill up some holes in my tenement flat rather intriguing in its almost edible appearance and vinegary smell. Think it’s a sign I need to get out more…
Final words of advice for your peers?
Do what you want; it’s worth it in the end.
Keep up to date on Monica's work by following her on Instagram at @clownchic and on her Facebook. You can also see her work at https://clownchic.wordpress.com/ and you have the opportunity to nab some of her works for yourself via the Clownchic Etsy Store !