We go behind-the-scenes with iconic Australian artists, Gillie and Marc, whose work features the quirky characters of Dogman and Rabbitgirl…
Gillie and Marc artwork is utterly contemporary – pushing the boundaries of the norm and creating unique art that is still accessible.
The husband and wife duo have reached international critical acclaim with their award-winning designs, and commissioned pieces featured around the country in Federation Square, Australia Zoo, and Sydney Children’s Hospital.
With their evocative prints and homewares in store, we were intrigued by the inspirations behind Gillie and Marc artwork.
How did you first start collaborating together? Was the process tricky at first or did it come naturally to you both?
Gillie: It’s a bit of a long and funny but beautiful story. You could say our journey began 25 years ago when we got married and started making art together. We definitely fell into things quickly and naturally.
Marc: We first met in Hong Kong. Gillie was a nurse from England and I was a boy from the ‘burbs’ of Melbourne. Even though we were both engaged to other people, we instantly realised we were soulmates.
Seven days later we were married in the foothills of Mount Everest. Ever since then we have made art together be it painting, design or sculpture. Like Gillie said, making art together has always been very natural.
Tell us about ‘Dogman and Rabbitgirl’ – How did the idea for them come about, and what do they represent?
Marc: The concept first started during a family trip with our kids to Egypt. Theriocephaly (meaning beast head) is the ancient Egyptian art practice of putting an animal head on the body of a human or deity. It was believed the human would evoke the qualities of the animal.
Gillie: Whenever we were down we would look to our dog whose unconditional love and happiness is so infectious.
So we made a few sculptures and paintings of Dogman but after a while we felt like he deserved a partner so Dogman and Rabbitgirl became our alter egos.
In the wild, dogs hunt and kill rabbits, but in this world the rules are discarded and new possibilities open up.
The dog and the rabbit become best friends and soulmates. Dogman and Rabbitgirl reflect our incredible love story while celebrating the powerful bond between humans and animals.
Marc: Dogman and Rabbitgirl are freaks. That’s the truth. They have animal heads and human bodies and they’re always naked.
But, in spite of that they’ve been accepted all over the world. They started out in Sydney on a Vespa and now they’re in Perth, Melbourne, China, New York – they’re everywhere.
What paintings and sculptures are stand-outs among your collection? Do you have any favourites?
Marc: He Was Happier Than He Imagined – I’ve always had a soft spot for vespas because it’s an excuse for Gillie to hold on tightly to me.
When we first visited Rome we became obsessed with watching the vespa riders known as the Motorini. Rome has the most registered scooters of any city in the world.
Here, scooters are for all walks of life, from teenagers to businessmen. I loved zipping around Rome on a vespa and when I returned to Sydney I even bought one for myself.
Gillie: I’ve always wanted to get into homewares so I’m very proud of our Rabbitgirl and Dogman vases.
Home is where the heart is, so it’s worthwhile to transform it into a beautiful, peaceful space. I just think these vases are so stylish and artistic.
They’ve been very popular and work well with any colour scheme in both home and office environments.
I’ve seen people use them to store their paint brushes or cafes have even turned them into tip jars. They are so versatile and classic. I love them!
Who are your art and design influences?
Marc: We draw a huge amount of inspiration from Andy Warhol. He started off working in advertising which was our background too.
Then when he did start making art he wasn’t defined by any medium – he threw himself into film, painting, performance art … anything really.
We also love that he worked outside of the traditional art societies and expectations. He was constantly being criticized by how prolific he was with his work.
And like us, his goal was to make his art accessible, relevant and popular which started the pop art movement.
Gillie: We’re also passionate about animal conservation and that’s a recurring theme in our work.
When we stop to consider the staggering amounts of magnificent creatures on the brink of extinction, that thought becomes a strong driver for us to create art that raises awareness to save these animals. And of course, love inspires us constantly.
What makes Australian art unique and why should people be buying from local Australian artists?
Marc: We’ll, it’s the only place you find that unique Aussie humour. It doesn’t exist anywhere else. We like to play with humour a lot in our work.
Gillie: I love the lifestyle here. I grew up in England where it was freezing cold and had drizzle all the time. There’s something about the weather and lifestyle that inspires fun and accessible art.
But also, I think generally speaking, you can push more boundaries. Australians are less resistant to change.
We have been very controversial with our work and there’s not many other places that will accept that.