“As contemporary artists we pull apart the world so it can be put back together as something different.”
As collaborators, and husband and wife, Gillie and Marc have been creating art together for over twenty years. They use their 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 are dog lovers, and they 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? Given that dogs have been shaped by humans from the beginning – we created all 400 breeds of domestic dog.
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.
Being husband and wife, and referencing their own love story and relationship in their work, means that Gillie and Marc’s art is full of love. Their work is never elitist, it’s accessible to people of all ages and demographics. They hope that their work creates a sense of togetherness, and gives people something to smile about, as they envision a world without strangers where difference is embraced.