Cherish Marshall’s manipulated canvasses explore vulnerability, both in how it effects the sufferer and observer. Sculpted planes transform the dimensions of each paintings. In conversation with Aesthetica, the artist discusses the notion of human performance in society.
A: Your process involves manipulating canvasses, using the materiality to create creases and movement within their painted subjects. Could you discuss how you developed this style?
CM: I think it can be easy to paint an image on to the canvas and just let the image be the storyteller. However, I wanted my work to be intrusive, and to make its statement. By taking the canvas off its stretcher and allowing it to invade the space it has a presents, it gains a personality. The canvas isn’t just an element for an image to be placed upon, it has its own vulnerable state, and like the subject you see giving it its own personality.
A: Using both the flat two-dimensional surface of the canvas for painting and then the three dimensions to construct a sculptural work, how do you plan out each piece? Do you paint and then move around without planning or think about how the canvas will move before you etch out its subject?
CM: Each subject has some planning (scribbles in a sketch book) but most of them will never go as planned, so now I have learnt to go more with the flow with each piece. Once I’ve painted the subject on a stretched canvas I can then take it off its stretcher and manipulate the canvas; each work has its own personality, some are well behaved, work and go with my plan. Whilst others like to test my patience and create its own shape, being stubborn.
A: Would you say that your pieces are abstract in any way?
CM: The background in the piece definitely have abstract elements to them. The colour and the lines set the mood of the works, similar to abstract expressionism. However as overall pieces I don’t think as abstract.
A: The theme of the works seems to be vulnerability – both in character it presents and in how it affects the viewer. Could you talk about why this is an interesting topic for you?
CM: This topic is interesting for me as I like to watch people and how they perform in society, and what seems to be normal, is very peculiar to me. We all tend to play a role where we act strong but soon as you ask for help or show the slightest frown we become weak or vulnerable. However playing strong isn’t always the best way, as it destroys us internally, wears us away, until there is nothing to wear left. Why? Why should we do that? Surely it’s normal to be vulnerable. This topic has so many ways I can look and delve into vulnerability, so much so, that I can’t stop working with this topic. I need to explore and change the way we think of vulnerability.
A: Why do you think that human emotion is still inherently successful within an artistic medium?
CM: I don’t think that the human emotion is ever taken out of an artistic medium. The one thing we humans all have in common is emotion, whether that be joy or misery, and with this link we are able to try and understand each other. We connect with people through similarities, we also do this in art, and so if art has an emotion that the audience connects to, of course it is more likely to be successful.
A: Do you intentionally try to bring out certain emotions in your audience, and if so, for what reason?
CM: Yes, I try and show the audience that our vulnerabilities are our strengths and not our weaknesses. We can make ourselves mentally unwell with hiding our true emotions just to suit others. Stuff that, we need to express ourselves, allow our hearts to run wild, allow tears to run down our faces. We are not robots we are meant to have emotion no matter how vulnerable this makes us. Our vulnerabilities make us human, and this is what I want to show.
Find out more about the artist: www.cherishmarshall.wixsite.com
1. Cherish Marshall, Betrayal of Instinct (2016). Courtesy of the artist.
2. Cherish Marshall, Altered Consciousness (2016). Courtesy of the artist.