Meet the Artist: Chanel Marbrow-Wright

Chanel Marbrow-Wright is in the final year of her BA (Hons) Fine Art course at the University of Derby. Her work is included in the new edition of No Jobs in the Arts zine showcasing young and emerging artists in the East Midlands, produced by Ryan Lee Boutlbee and Charlie Collins.

Follow Chanel on Instagram for updates about her work.

Describe your practice for us?

My practice consists of site-specific painting installations, working with mundane objects that generally go overlooked. My paintings are cut out shapes, generally from disposable and resourceful materials such as cardboard, reflecting the everyday. My work uses trompe l’oeil and challenges the viewer’s perception of the everyday object. Sometimes the objects we use daily, become unnoticed. I am taking time out to notice and appreciate the mundane objects around us and translate these into paintings, in order to project this idea onto the viewer. My work explores 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional painting and prompts the viewer to question, what it is they are looking at? The real or the representational?


Your current work uses the traditional technique trompe l’oeil, but in a contemporary setting. Where did you come across this technique and why have you chosen to explore it in your work?

I have always painted realistically and have always been fascinated with making a painting or drawing resemble life. I discovered the technique during the end of my second year at university. By painting using trompe l’oeil and through mimesis, I am able to closely mimic real life. Although my work closely works with trompe l’oeil, the work still addresses materiality and is painterly. This raises questions about the act of painting and I hope through the representation of these everyday objects I am able to heighten the appreciation for the things that go unnoticed and routines that each of us have. In a day when most people are consumed by the digital.

Dirty Sink

Your work involves painting incredibly realistic ‘mundane’ objects and inserting them in a setting. What prompted you to take your paintings off the canvas and create site-specific pieces?

I was previously working onto the traditional rectangular canvas. I was getting into a slump with my work as I wanted the painting to feel as if it was part of the environment. Rather than just a canvas fixed to a wall. My eyes were opened when talking to one of my tutors as university, and I realised that painting had so many more possibilities. Taking the painting off the canvas prompts a playful and spontaneous response to the mundane. It challenges traditional painting and raises questions. By placing these works into a site-specific setting, it allows the viewer to question, what a painting is. Through the act of painting, I am taking these familiar objects out of their context then placing them back into the environment.

Paintbrush on a ladder

How do you see this project developing?

At the moment, I am working on installations based in my university studios. I am working towards exhibiting as part of my final degree show. Currently, I am making paintings that represent objects that you would usually find at your kitchen sink, but with a playful twist. I am currently experimenting with adding the photographic into my practice, playing re-representation of the paintings that I make.

Patching up the studio floor

What motivates you when creating your work and was there anything that particularly motivated your current project?

The everyday objects around me generally motivate my practice. The colour aesthetic in the mundane things that we use also projects into my work. For example, the blue and yellow in an IKEA bag. My time in the studios during my university degree is important and the studios are where I set up most of my installations. The work of other trompe l’oeil artists, such as Lucy Mckenzie and Susan Collis influences my work. As well as work by Pop Artists such as Warhol and Wesselmann.

Project Space

What was you route in the arts industry and how did you develop your artist practice?

I am studying in a BA (Hons) Fine Art course at University of Derby. I am currently in my final year. My work really developed towards the end of my second year. Mainly in my first public exhibition, Portamento. This is because this was the first time that my work had been put into a site and this allowed me to explore what it means to remove the painting from the white cube gallery space. Towards the end of my second year my practice really started to take off. The course has really helped me to push my boundaries as an artist.

Back to the drawing board

What have been the biggest challenges to your practice so far?

The biggest challenges to my practice are how the viewer will perceive my work. Working with trompe l’oeil it is important to recognise how it is perceived to the viewer. Sometimes this is hard for me to recognise as I am constantly submerged in my work. An active viewer is a big part of my practice and it helps for fresh eyes to see my practice every now and then.

Where can we see your work? Do you have any upcoming exhibitions, events or projects?

My work can be found on my Instagram feed @chanelmwrightartist. My Instagram feed allows me to document the photographic part of my practice. I am also planning to put work onto a notice board exhibition space at Derby University and will be collaborating in a project with a photography student at university, which I am really excited about!

There is an upcoming group exhibition that my work will be featured in which also features work by University of Derby third year fine art students. You can stay up to date with the whereabouts by following @coda_exhibition_derby on Instagram!


Chanel was interviewed in December 2019.

All images are by and courtesy of the artist.