About the Artist.
Marcus Clarke is primarily known as a Puppeteer for Children's Television, he is Bookaboo in the Multi BAFTA and other award nominated and winning Amazon Studio's and CBC Canada's Kids TV Series, Bookaboo.
He is also a Puppet Maker and his partnership company, Hands Up Puppets made the UK Channel 5's Milkshake Monkey Puppet and RTE's Ogri Puppet, which featured on Ireland's National Postage Stamp. His work from Little Shop of Horrors, The Storyteller, Dappledown Farm to Milkshake Monkey has been on our screens for over 25 years.
Marcus though went to Art School as a Teenager to become an Exhibiting Fine Artist and in 2010 he decided to get himself back on this Fine Art path. Instead of abandoning all that he had learned in Puppetry, TV and Film he decided to incorporate it into his new Art output and began combining it with conceptual ideas derived from his earlier life and art student works. Here he had inter-played objects and images. Painting on scrap Car parts for example and with illusion by creating collages on Plexiglass and Mirrors.
With this combination of early inspiration, later learned craft making skills, performance ability and perceptive intuition or emotional Intelligence, he created a series of building based works taken from the 2011 British Art Show 7, taking the opportunity to bundle his new artworks and himself as a re-emerging Fine Artist into an Art movement, one that he called PuppetTVGraffiti. He then dedicated it and himself to what he called the Puppetising of objects and images. Imbuing them with some of the qualities of a Puppet. Primarily irreverence and the illusion of life. This gave his new direction or transformation into an exhibiting Fine Artist form and identity. A title.
His latest PuppetTVGraffiti works also build naturally on those of his mentor and former Puppetry Teacher Jim Henson of the Muppets fame and his own early works including the NBC Pipes. Something fellow Puppeteer Frank Oz (Miss Piggy and Yoda) who Directed Marcus in Little Shop of Horrors described as "affectionate anarchy". Combining Puppetry Arts with Conceptual Art now seems perfectly natural to Marcus though he has continued to grow his practice and it has changed. He recently added Antique Jewelry and Found Objects as additional materials and began incorporating his interest in the power of Reliquary, Symbolism and Belief to explore what essentially he always has, where character or life visually begins. Characters, stylised or abstract figures, perhaps just a single eye, are placed by him in a wider image context to describe or imply a story. He utilises text and personal commentary, sometimes just a title, sometimes whole story outlines, to help make the entire resulting work become a unique journey of discovery. Thought provoking too. Lately he has been using Vacuum Sealing to capture and preserve a moment of his work. Adding Gemstones, baubles, jewelry and gold leaf to turn them into something that looks precious, Treasured. He's called this process New Art Enshrinement or Treasuring. "these latest works owe something to the tradition of Derbyshire Well Dressing. I also try to replicate in them the aged, unkempt, slightly disheveled, quirky look of a medieval relic. Hence in the detail there's the odd stray hair or cobweb string, dry cracked card or water stain," (Marcus Clarke). His latest projects using this process include, The Treasured Seaside, The Treasured Forest, The Treasure of Cats and Dogs. In these he uses antique often Victorian images as a base, an original Relic. "I then Vacuum seal the finished works together to make them shiny, water resistant, to capture them and to seemingly freeze a moment in time," (Marcus Clarke). They can be hung using hangars, cord and pegs, bulldog clips or blue tac. But don't hole, pin or pierce them as they are fragile in this way. "I punctured one accidentally once and it immediately lost its visual edge, it appeared deflated, sad,". Though safely bagged and vacuum sealed these artworks can also be conventionally framed by a professional Picture Framer. They look great like this too. Marcus adds, "I'm becoming increasingly interested in unusual balances in my works, colour, tone, shape and this has driven a whole new range of works called 'Keepsake's and Objet D'art' and some are exhibited here. These odd or curious balances seem somehow to imitate life".
Marcus has had three Solo Puppetised, PuppetTVGraffiti art exhibitions funded by Arts Council England this one, RSM Sheringham 2017, DogHorse Coat Feb 2015 both staged at the Floor 1 Gallery, Nottingham Central Library and 'Homeless in the Puppetised City' which was held in a pop up in the Lace Market. That exhibition and the Puppetised Building based artworks was about a homeless Puppet walking the streets of Nottingham imagining local buildings as a potential Puppet Home for him.
Works from this and previous exhibitions are on sale at Arts Council England’s artgallery.co.uk
Thanks to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
LACMA for the few thought provoking and inspiring days I spent with their collection.
Marcus Clarke FRSA