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Art Works: Marcus Clarke

13 February 15

"It's a pet dog's coat that I've then imbued with puppetry, irreverence and the illusion of life"

Puppetised Dog Coat - OEillet rouget, longe langue

This piece is called Œillet rouget, longe langue, which is old French for ‘red eye, big tongue’. I’ve used old French because of the heraldry in the language and, being also Quebecois, I am part old French. It’s a pet dog’s coat that I’ve then imbued with puppetry, irreverence and the illusion of life. As is my PuppetTVGraffiti practice. I bought the dog coat off eBay and used my puppet-making materials to change its appearance, adorning it to be more than its original form. This time, as a challenge and for added fun, I’ve combined and adhered to the ancient rules of heraldry.

I have a workshop in my home in Sherwood where I make my puppets. This one took about a week to design and make. People’s reactions have been great – they’ve suggested that I make up a font and sell that. Working in theatre, film and TV through performing, creating puppet characters, and everything else I do is all part of me being an artist. Being creative is a passion and a compulsion. I’ve always daydreamed or wandered off the subject as other creative options constantly, incessantly present themselves to me.

Jim Henson’s early work, the NBC Pipes of 1964, and my own childhood especially have influenced my work, as well as semiotics, history and heraldry. I’ve always been interested in creating characters to speak through. I can’t communicate just as myself. Some people suggest a hand puppet is clothing for the hand, which is true, but it’s more complex than that for me. In 2010, I started PuppetTVGraffiti which continues much of what I was doing at art school all those years ago, but also draws on new things and combines them with what I’ve learnt through my professional career in puppetry. That’s why I describe my fine art practice as puppetisation and the wider context of it as PuppetTVGraffiti Est 2010.

I’m proud of my other and early work. I’ll let other people deal with any puppet word or association prejudice they have and ultimately, if I can change that perception to have puppetry – probably mankind’s oldest artform – more widely accepted and recognised as the truly great artform it is, then that’s a wholly positive outcome for me. Given the luxury of time and money, I’d like to make a puppetised airship hotel.

The DogHorse Coat Exhibition will be on display at the Angel Row Gallery, Nottingham Central Library from Monday 2 – Saturday 28 February 2015

Marcus Clarke website

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