Born on the Isle of Portland, Susan grew up in a landscape of stone quarries, cliffs and wide views across field and scrub to open sea. She studied Fine Art in Falmouth and has continued to live and work on the South Coast.
Susan’s interest in the tabletop images of Diebenkorn, Nicholson and Letinsky is reflected in her work, as is the pared-back beauty of her maritime birthplace.
Her handling of paint explores the dynamics of representation, with constant play between the flat surface and the illusion of depth and solidity. The resulting paintings show things caught at the very moment of appearance, crystallising out of a quiet shimmer of paint. There is a certain melancholia present. All the same, there is no denying the joy in this work, and a certain wild freedom.
This is the freedom of the instant before the brain categorises what is exposed to the eye. Without fuss or fanfare, they renew for us the surprise of seeing.
SOPHISTICATED STILL LIFE IN OIL
A VISIT TO
Susan is currently working on some large Hydrangea paintings for me, which are always stunning and very sought after. This pair are worked from photos and have a cooler blue hue, no doubt a reflection of the winter light. In addition Susan has been working direct from life, (currently some old boots) three paintings from different angles, each requiring footing markings on the floor so that she knows exactly where to stand when working. This level of accuracy is important to her practice. She tells me of the tonal practice she had to fastidiously complete when studying fine art at Falmouth and I can see how this training has stood her in great stead. She often works on paintings with them hanging upside down too, a clever trick to mix up the angle of the brush work and generate a more dynamic range of marks. It's these things you learn when you visit an artist in their studio, and ask the nosier questions!
We will be showing Susan Ashworth's paintings at the following fairs in 2019:
Fresh Art Fair Cheltenham
April 25 -28
Affordable Art Fair Hampstead
May 9 - 12
Fresh Art Fair Ascot
September 20 -22
Edinburgh Art Fair
November 14 - 17
It's a half hour drive from Hove to where Susan Ashworth paints and you have the choice of coast or countryside. It was a frosty January morning the last time I visited and I opted for the views of frosty fields. The mix of south coastal greys and blues and the verdant foothills of the downs has a large impact on the palette of Susan's paintings. Nature is at the core of her work, but it's the stillness and the light she creates that grabs me the most.
Susan's studio is in the once garage space below her 1960's modernist house. The old door has been replaced with glass but light doesn't flood in so is controllable and this is important. She works from photographs and studies of still lifes which she sets up in her home upstairs, on days when the light is strong and sharp. Glass vases, fresh flowers, a cafetiere or an old-style milk bottle all feature in her compositions. They suggest a human presence - a Saturday morning when the coffee is freshly brewed but you've just popped out of view.
I love visiting Susan. It's not just the drive - though it's always a treat to get out of town for a short while - it's seeing what she's working on, discussing the unique intricacies of her practice and having a nose around the treasures she has about her when she works. This is true of all studio visits, of course. One of the best things about my job is spending time with artist in the places where they create. I particularly love the sense of peace and nostalgia in Susan's studio. There are postcards and sketchbooks, shells and seed pods, an old radio, vintage laces and colourful notes from her son. They make you feel instantly at home, as her paintings do.