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Painting (MA)

Marissa Stoffer

Marissa Stoffer (b. Netherlands) is a Scottish and London-based cross-disciplinary artist and educator. She graduated from Edinburgh University with an MA in Fine Art (History of Art and Painting) in 2014, receiving the Edinburgh University's Collection Purchase Prize and Graduate Studio Award.

She has exhibited in the UK, Ireland, and Peru, and is a recipient of 'The Visual Art and Craft Makers Award' (2018), attending funded residencies in Scotland (2021), Peru (2018), and Finland (2017) supported by Creative Scotland, Edinburgh Council, Marchmont House, and Hope Scott Trust. She was the recipient of the Colart Art Materials Award (2020) and received the Burren College of Art Residency through the RCA (2023).

Marissa has been invited to speak at RCA about sustainability within art practice in 2020 and 2022. She teaches her own workshops ‘Foraging for Colour’ independently and with public and educational organisations including Great Place Scotland, and Tweed River Culture. Recent exhibitions include 'The Landscape of One's Own', Vermillion Partners (2023), 'Brink' 2030 Collective, RCA Hanger (2023), and Performance at 'Ghost Notes', Fold Gallery (2023).

Degree Details

School of Arts & HumanitiesPainting (MA)RCA2023 at Truman Brewery

Truman Brewery, F Block, Ground, first and second floors

Artist in the studio with a backdrop of hanging textiles and masks, made by the artist.

My practice centres on ecology, plants, and our complex relationships with them. Inspired by my upbringing, travels, and residencies I have attended in remote wild locations, I seek a collective sense of belonging and connection through the stories and colours of plants in the UK.

To explore this, I forage for colour by creating dyes and pigments from plants I collect during walks. This ancient, slow craft process allows me to study plant species (particularly trees and "weeds") and discover how their stories intertwine with our own cosmologies and evolution. This method of making is a science, as factors such as seasons, location, soil health, and water properties influence the resulting hues. Over time, I have developed my own collection of recipes, samples, and objects that unveil the stories and metaphors encapsulated within the plant landscape of the UK.

I am a cross-disciplinary artist who explores various mediums, including textiles, painting, sculpture, installation, performance, and sound. Looking at the intricate connections between humans and the natural world, I draw inspiration from semiotics, language, myth, folklore, animism, and science. I primarily work with trees because they are great teachers who reflect our identity and trace our changing relationship with nature. Foraging is a sensual exploration of our surroundings, encompassing sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch, which I bring into my work. Amidst the exploration of profound ideas, I also embrace humour and the weird, incorporating mask-making and alternative forms of storytelling through collaboration and performance.

Central to my practice is a deep concern for sustainability and the origins of materials, as well as their histories. Working in slow craft allows me to foster an intimate connection with plants, materials, and the non-human world, embodying a way of life and artistic expression. By forging a connection with my local ecology—past, present, and future—I strive to establish a sense of kinship, wonder, and awe.

Large Textile floating with a stick hanging next to it. The letter Y is pleated into piece, blue black, textured surface.
'Y', Foraged Oak (collected in late summer, Scotland, 2022) hand-dyed on recycled calico 120cm x 210cm, 2023. 'Navigator', wooden stick 21.5cm x 11cm, 2017.
Close up detail pf folded Y shape.
Close up of twig shaped like the letter Y
Reverse of artwork, shows the inverted design of pleating. It is more rigid and pulses out
Reverse view of 'Y'

The sign Y takes on many interpretations such as the simplified tree, the cross, the peace sign, the letter, DNA both vegetal and animal. The stories of the Oak date back centuries known as a tree of life, wisdom, and knowledge. Yet, the Oak has a rich history in the industry of tanning, making black dyes for leather and textiles. It also belongs to darker histories in the name of progress, where its wood was over-extracted to build ships and make coal for smelting iron.

Textile hanging but standing on the ground, the colour fades from peach at the top to dark brown with textured painterly marks
'Plane Sight', Foraged London Plane (collected in winter London 2023) dyed on old French Metis Linen sheet, 115cm x 300cm, 2023.
Detail of mark making and splatters
A tree trunk resting on a wooden chair, waiting to be cut for dye. Placed in front of window with London Plane outside.
Process of peeling bark to make colour from London Plane tree.

The London Plane tree is an enigmatic figure in central London’s ecosystem, prominent everywhere yet often unseen. Originating from the union of two parent species, the American Sycamore and the Oriental Plane, this tree's lineage traverses continents. During the 1500s, this hybridisation occurred, possibly in Spain or the UK. Despite the environmental challenges posed by the Great Smog during the industrial revolution, the London Plane tree thrived. Recognising its resilience, it was extensively planted throughout London, serving as a guardian against carbon pollution by absorbing and releasing it through its camouflaged, patterned bark. 

Three masks one nest like in wool, one long piece using torn canvas and a Y at the top, one rectangular with eyes cut in

London Plane dyed on salvaged scarp canvas and Scottish wool, steel wire, and London Plane seeds. From left; 'Nest', 24cm x 42cm. 'Wishing Tree', 21cm x 130cm. 'Emoji', 66cm x68cm. 2023

These masks were made for a collaborative performance with Original Copy, drawing upon the tradition of the Mummers which is still practiced in Ireland, Scotland, and the UK.

Installation view of Y, Plane Sight, and Wishing Tree Mask
Installation view from the left, 'Plane Sight', 'Wishing Tree', 'Navigator', and 'Y'. 2023.
Textiles cut into squares and rectangles, lines and curves pinched and fixed to create 3D effect, hand sewn together loosely
After a Storm, Fallen Bruce Fir, Peebles, Winter, 22nd MarchForaged Bruce Fir dyed on recycled calico, 25cm x 33cm, 2023.
Re-sewn textile with shapes and hanging thread, curved forms, the letter Y makes this piece look like a body
You Are My ArmourForaged Ash (collected in winter 2021) on recycled calico, 30cm x 43cm, 2023
View looking down onto performance set up with the three collaborators generating sounds and words from actions and signs
London Plane Performance at RCA Painting Studios, 2023.
An action within the performance live painting script from London Plane Tree
'Ghost Notes' Fold Gallery, Performance, Mixed Media (2023). An evening of performance and music curated by Pigeon Park's Christopher Stead, and Carolina Aguirre at their exhibition 'Ghost Notes' during London Gallery Weekend. Fold Gallery, 2023.

Original Copy uses specially designed software to explore the visible world of objects, images, and material space to uncover soundscapes and text to build atmospheric encounters and unearth dormant narratives. In this performance, we collaborated to investigate the London Plane tree, generating sound and text inspired by colours, shapes, actions, and our surroundings. Our exploration draws inspiration from British folklore and DIY movements. 

An open book with small shapes that came from the shadows in the cracks of rocks, like an alphabet
Shadows of Ancient Corals Turned into StoneHandmade Oak Gall ink, on paper, 2023.

‘The word wen signifies a conglomeration of marks, the simple symbol in writing. It applies to the veins in stones and wood, to constellations, represented by the strokes connecting stars, to the tracks of birds and quadrupeds on the ground (Chinese tradition would have it that the observation of these tracks suggested the invention of writing)…the term wen had designated, by extension, literature…’

J. Gernet, quoted in Jacques Derrida, ‘Of Grammmatology’⠀

Installation view of plinth assemblage and projection from video of  Poulnabrone dolmen (a portal tomb) from neolithic times.
Installation view from the collaborative exhibition 'Beneath the Burren', at Burren College of Art, 2023.
Five small canvases lined up displaying a colour spectrum: black, yellow, green pink, umber

'We Share The Continuum'. Handmade pigments extracted from trees that naturally grow together in the UK. Oil on recycled calico, 20cm x 30cm, 2023.

Black, Ash Tree pigment, collected in Summer, Leith Scotland 2022. Yellow, Ash Tree pigment, collected in Summer, Leith Scotland 2022. Green, Handmade Fir Tree, collected in Winter, Leith Scotland 2021-2022. Pink, Rowan Tree, collected in Spring, Greenlaw Scotland, 2021. Light Umber, Birch, and Oak Tree pigment, collected in Spring, Greenlaw Scotland, 2021.

Colart Materials Award