We are always fascinated to learn the inspiration and creative routine behind artists’ work. We met with artist Susie Hamilton to discuss her practice and learn more about the the core themes of her work.
Metamorphosis is a central theme in all your work, what is the biggest artistic development in your work since starting out in the 1980s?
Drawing figures on the street or in shops (at the end of the 90s) was crucial to my artistic development. Confronted with fast-moving people I obviously had to draw quickly. As a result, the figure morphed into intriguing and expressive shapes and became a fragile, elongated, biomorphic creature. I continued to draw from life in this way, changing people into vulnerable or menacing or damaged beings. I discovered the meaning that metamorphosis had for me, its emotional and psychological charge, through this sort of practice.
Susie in her studio, courtesy of the artist
Your work explores the relationship between environments such as natural wilderness or supermarkets and the abstracted subjects within them, what fascinates you about this relationship?
It’s to do with the single or isolated figure in the wilderness. I depict a figure who is literally solitary or is isolated in a huge crowd (of diners/sunbathers/shoppers). The figure is placed in a challenging or overwhelming environment (a frozen forest or an impersonal precinct or an alienating social occasion) to the extent that s/he is mutating/going to pieces in the setting. My style of painting adds to the sense of challenge that besets the figure. I use paint in an iconoclastic way, with blots and smears and acrylic fluidity, to attack or deface or abstract the figure, thus adding to its sense of vulnerability.
On the topic of people in relation to their environments, tell us about a day in your studio. Do you have a creative routine?
Yes, I tend to work early in the morning, working on my iPad over coffee at 6am, getting into the studio at 8am. I live near the studio in Mile End so I walk home around 1pm and return to work in the afternoon. I never listen to music there, I paint standing up with several pieces on the go at once, on the floor as well as on the walls. Since I draw/paint from life quite often I sometimes work in Victoria Park or in shopping malls etc. with my sketchbooks and watercolours.
Do you have exciting projects/exhibitions coming up?
I am in B+W, group show at Paul Stolper till 14th September. It features black and white work by Frank Auerbach, Peter Blake,Jimmy Cauty, Keith Coventry, Kevin Cummins, Jeremy Deller, Brian Eno, Susie Hamilton, Damien Hirst, Reece Jones.
I shall also be showing with Paul Stolper in the West Bund art fair, Shanghai in November.
I have been selected for the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize opening 26th September and touring till summer 2020.
I am working again with Hospital Rooms, the mental health charity, doing live dog painting and also a slide talk on Sept 11th. They will also be launching my new print edition on that evening.
I am taking part in Art Car Boot Fair on 28th Sept. in Margate (coinciding with opening of Turner prize at Turner Contemporary) and I’ll be selling my book of TS Eliot paintings/drawings: ‘On Margate Sands’ as well as new figure, monkey and dog paintings and also little notebooks with painted covers inspired by French novels.
I shall be having a two-person show (called ‘Grub Party’) with Mimei Thompson at Transition gallery, London, in November.
Purchase Susie's prints here.