Digital / Light / Sound
Installation / Land / Site-specific
Susan's work employs the material culture of everyday domestic and industrial products, such as recycled computer components, maps and paper currency. She transforms these seemingly banal products into compelling artworks. In seeking to reconnect an object’s past, its related history and materiality with contemporary issues, her practice underscores these materials urgent interconnection to collective memories and ecological shortfalls; aspects that expose and challenge inequality and injustice.
Susan’s interest in the politics of feminism and the body has led to a series of dress sculpture, the most recent of which is Europa, that reflects Susan's time in France and questions recent and historic events in Europe, including the war in Ukraine, Brexit and mass migration. Europa is a time traveller looking out to what? standing in sea water and carrying a rucksack she bears the weight of an unpredictable future. Meticulously crafted and subtly revealing she is both beautiful, and full of foreboding at the same time. Territory Dress, 2018 was commissioned by the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam. Now on permanent display in the exhibition Our Colonial Inheritance. Maps that reference Dutch colonial history are fashioned into the shape of a regal dress, and small model boats and maps of significant territories are concealed inside the neck, womb and train. In 2019 Susan made a film exploring the sculpture and juxtaposed it with archival film of past seafaring imagery. It is as if the figure is remembering her history and making imaginary connections. This work is featured in two recent books 50 Women Sculptors and Provenance.
A major solo exhibition and site-specific installation, Out of Time at Hotel d'Astier, Forcalquier, France.
The renaissance courtyard installation, Hot Air evoked the night sky, hot air balloons, and a miniature universe. Meticulously crafted and subtly revealing, this installation established the links between colonial behaviours, global warming, pandemics, and our fragile world. As well as the underlying deeper meanings the work is also uplifting and evoked a sense of play and wonder. Each globe resembles a hot air balloon and appears to float across the space with objects associated with global warming hanging in place of where the balloons basket; a gun, toy oil tankard, iPhone, coal basket to name a few.
Susan’s interest in the politics of feminism and the body has led to a series of dress sculptures including, Territory Dress, 2018, commissioned by and on permanent display in Our Colonial Inheritance at the Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam and Colonial Dress, which in the collection of the House of European History in Brussels.
For this exhibition Susan created a new sculptural dress, entitled Europa, the sculpture reflects her time in France and questions recent historic events in Europe, including the war in Ukraine, Brexit and mass migration.
The title of the exhibition was inspired by the Blur song Out of Time –
Sail Painting at the Royal Shakespeare Company (Stratford Upon Avon 2015) was a large scale site-specific installation that hung in the front of the theatre atrium spaces. The result of Susan’s year long residency there, it consisted of 32 appropriated and hand crafted sails, made from old plastic food sacks, which hung at various angles in the multi-level building. Seen from different vantage points the viewer felt they could be walking inside a three dimensional abstract painting.
Sail Away in the Tate Modern's Turbine Hall (Hyperlink Festival, London, 2013) consisted of hundreds of small boats made from old paper currency, travel tickets and maps, forming a large flotilla that snaked along the floor of this voluminous space. The used money notes had been handled by many thousands of people over their life spans and the scratches, pen marks and rubbed away textures all contributed to the piece's sense of collective social history. During the exhibition 800 people came and made and added their boats to the flotilla.
Flood (York 2010) was made from four tons of recycled computer components that were arranged in a huge cascading conical shape inside the alter area of St Mary's, a de-consecrated 13th century church in York. The computers were dissected and their innards were exposed revealing the underbelly of the machines we take for granted; an autopsy of our consumer society. An important element in the large scale installations is that the materials are often borrowed to make the work and returned to the recycling company/ sponsor once the exhibition has ended. Susan chose these everyday 'commodity' materials because they contain 'stains of existence' and act as ready-made signifiers, which I sculpt and interweave in ways that delicately reveal their obscured politics, environmental harm and hidden beauty.
Susan is best known for her site-specific installations and dress sculptures that have been exhibited widely, including; Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam (2020 & 2022-), the Museum of London (2021-2022), Warrington Museum and Art Gallery (2020/21), Aspex Gallery Portsmouth (2018), the Royal Shakespeare Company (2015), TATE Modern (2013), the Katonah Museum of Art, New York (2012), the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (2010, 2005, 2001) and her work is held in international collections including; the University of Bedfordshire, Black Rock Investments (Courtesy of Tag Fine Arts), Yale Centre for British Art, USA, the National Army Museum, London, The House of European History Brussels and the Stichting Museum van Wereldculturen & Tropenmuseum Amsterdam, NL. She has also taught extensively and taken part in residencies and projects in Europe, America, Australia and Asia. As well as working with Patrick Heide Contemporary Art, Susan is supported by The Artists Agency. She gained an MA in sculpture from the Royal College of Art in 1993 and lives and works in London England and Provence, France.