We are two people working as one, with a single vision, something no one else is doing in art.
Gillie and Marc are Australian contemporary artists, and husband and wife, who collaborate to create art as one. Together, they have applied the imagery of their dog/human hybrid to celebrate the powerful spiritual relationship that exists between man and animal. Their hybrid allows them to explore unconditional love, loyalty, affection and joy through by asking us to consider whether a human might benefit from some of the qualities of the dog.
The iconic characters they have created, Rabbitgirl and Dogman, reference Gillie and Marc’s own remarkable love story. They met in Hong Kong, she was a nurse from England and he was a boy from the ‘burbs of Melbourne. Seven days later they were married in the foothills of Mount Everest. That was over twenty years ago, and since then they have collaborated on their paintings and sculptures, as one, with a singular dedication and craftsmanship.
Their art explores relationships and love, and finds inspiration in their travels around the world and adventures they have had, or hope to have, together. They hope that their animal/human hybrids makes people think by challenging conventions, expectations and societal norms.
Gillie and Marc’s work has received acclaim worldwide, and their paintings and sculptures are held in collections both in Australia, and internationally. They have exhibited their art all over the world, with over thirty solo exhibitions. Together, they were Archibald Prize Finalists in 2006, won the Chianciano Biennale in Tuscany in 2009 and were finalists in Bondi’s Sculptures by the Sea in 2012.
Their sculptures have been commissioned by many large organisations and can be seen in Federation Square in Melbourne, the Sydney Children’s Hospital, Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo and Australia Zoo in Queensland just to name a few.
As artists who pride themselves on embracing challenges, Gillie and Marc have no plans to stop going on adventures with their art. They continue to create new sculptures from bronze, poly-resin and fibreglass and paintings on canvas, board and card from their studio in Sydney. Gillie and Marc have a vision of a world without strangers, where their art inspires moments of happiness and togetherness.
Gillie and Marc work together to create their paintings and sculptures as one so their technique and style is naturally influenced by the act of collaborating, and by each other. When they first met, they painted separately, but over time they could see their styles growing similar and realised they were influencing each other. Now they both paint on one canvas, or work to design a sculpture together.
Their work encompasses paintings on canvas, card or wooden panels with three dimensional relief and sculptures in fibreglass and bronze.
To give their paintings texture and movement, Gillie and Marc use enamel with a high-gloss finish to loosen up the line work with Jackson Pollock style paint-splatters. By layering the matte and glossy paints, and using impasto, they take a two dimensional image and give it sculptural dimension, so the image leaps off the canvas.
Gillie and Marc love to play with scale in their work, and see taking a small animal and making it large as adding a layer of meaning to the work. By creating work that is very large, or tiny, they play with the viewer’s perception of what is real and the work begins to say something entirely new.
They say that bronze is the most challenging, and rewarding medium they have ever worked with. Now they create bronzes that are as big as seven metres tall or as small as ten centimetres. Marc says part of the pleasure of working with bronzes is, “knowing that long after we are gone, the works will still be here to be enjoyed. That may sound egotistical, but I guess it’s kind of like having children – we see these works as children.”
Gillie and Marc’s iconic animal/human hybrid characters to tell their own spectacular love story, to explore the nature of relationships, to understand the animal side of humans and to create moments of happiness. Ancient Egyptian philosophy inspired the hybrid concept, the dog head on the human body, during Gillie and Marc’s own travels.
It is said that Ancient Egyptians believed by placing the head of an animal on a human, the person could take on some of the qualities of that animal. Gillie and Marc believe the qualities of dogs – unconditional love, loyalty – are beautiful, and maybe something all humans could benefit from. The hybrid is also an opportunity to ask what effect our animal friends and companions have had on us?
Over time, the hybrid idea grew, and Dogman needed a companion – that was Rabbitgirl. Dogman and Rabbitgirl’s story is a reflection of, and reaction to, Gillie and Marc’s own relationship and love. Dog and rabbit make an unlikely couple in nature, so Gillie and Marc hope the love between them inspires a need to embrace individuality and uniqueness in other people. Now, Gillie and Marc are exploring other hybrid characters who symbolise the connections and complicated relationships that exist between humans and other humans, as well as humans and animals. Gillie and Marc’s work is a commentary on and fascination with relationships. The relationship between man and woman, as well as the relationship between human and animal and between our pets and our families.
Some of their sculptures, including Good Boy and They weren’t in love but that didn’t really matter, have stirred controversy over the unashamed nudity and sex in the work. But Gillie and Marc see this as a natural extension of the inspiration they find in the hybrids, because animals have none of the complicated feelings about nudity that humans do. They see these works as exploring the animal within and attempting to remove the inane associations nudity and sex have with shame and guilt. Gillie and Marc believe contemporary art should push boundaries, and artists have a duty to push back against censorship. However, they’re not artists who impose a political point of view on the viewer – instead, they tease at a question by poking at a topic with humour in the hope of starting a conversation.