About Susannah Paterson (b. 1960)
Hello! Im currently working on building a body of work for an online show with the Contemporary Art Awards in August 2018. Lots of new work coming!
I am an artist, ceramicist and treasure hunter
I mainly paint allegorical themes and I like to create pots that make people smile.
I have always been a treasure hunter. It's a narrative that I can track right back to my earliest memories - being fascinated by the diamond trail of Jack Frost on the window pane on a Scottish winter morning, to scouring through the ancient Bronze Age settlement at the back of my childhood home hoping to find a remnant of lives lived thousands of years ago. Listening to stories of buried Viking hoards, aching to find one of my own. Hunting for ancient things in the ruins of the Norman castle on my father’s farm, which was rumored to have a long lost smugglers tunnel leading down to the cliffs below.
Later, when I became a therapist, I found myself learning to hunt for treasure in a different way .. finding the golden thread of hope, the trove of memory and meaning that would complete the picture and provide insight and healing. I wryly thought of myself as a kind of soul detective . Now, as a painter, I realise I am doing the same thing. Each work is a new quest to find the treasure hidden somewhere in between the marks I make, my own unconscious mind and my conscious skill. I am looking for beauty, potential, duality and some narrative or universality that will provide a vehicle for conversation and reflection.
My paintings emerge from a meditative state - a little like self hypnosis. At first, I don't think too much and just trust my unconscious mind to dictate the marks and the rhythm. I am looking for balance. I spend time contemplating, seeking out certain shapes that could be developed. Colours will set the mood, but then dark and light, perfect, imperfect, finished, unfinished, joy and sadness, complex and simple need to sit together in a harmonious way. I keep working until a story or theme emerges and I can look at the work as a whole and sense the golden thread of connection runs through it.
While my painting takes me into altered states of awareness, ceramics provides an important opposite of being grounded, and present. I seek to produce simple yet beautiful and unique functional pieces. Sometimes I like to make animal sculptures too, for fun, and to make myself smile .. I call these “dogimals”.
The treasure hunter is present as I explore the alchemy of elements involved in clay work.
Learning about different combinations of minerals, fluxes, silica and oxides intrigue me. The elements of water, earth, fire and air are brought together to create a vessel or a sculpture in a way that I find delightful and inspiring.
Bringing both my art and ceramics together so that they compliment each other is ever my goal. Its a treasure hunt in itself that will never end.