Biography

Mid-career to international (1976–1987)

This period marks a radical change in Susan’s genre compositions – she developed a unique narrative style inspired by fugal patterns in music, where subjects are repeated from various viewpoints. Examples of this compositional style are the painting Evening Factory Valley 1976, the lithograph At Home 1978, and the painting The Cup of Tea 1976, which was selected for the 1977 Sulman Exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW.

Concurrently with her genre work, Susan continued to create landscapes stimulated by camping trips. She was influenced by Japanese art including woodblock prints, especially those of Hokusai. In 1976–77 she painted a series of watercolour landscapes on crumpled Japanese paper [Cattai Ridge 1976], a novel textural technique that she had seen in an exhibition of contemporary Japanese art.

Susan continued to exhibit regularly in local and national shows, where she received many awards. She took up music studies again after being without a piano for many years, obtaining the Associate (Practical) in Pianoforte, Trinity College London in 1975. She accompanied her children who were learning string instruments and drew and painted them practising: Paul Playing Cello 1977, Brahms String Sextet No. 1 1977.

From 1977 to 1980 Susan held a continuous exhibition at the Seymour Centre (University of Sydney) where she exhibited acrylic paintings, watercolours, and prints. The exhibition changed periodically as works were sold, e.g., Native Pines, Warrumba Range, Central NSW 1974, and new work was produced such as Yo-yoing 1977, The Front Veranda 1977, and Autobiography 1980.

Susan acquired a Dickerson combination press in 1977 and gradually mastered the technique of hand printing multi-coloured lithographs [Gardener's Dream No. 2 1980]. She held a solo exhibition of lithographs at Blackfriars Gallery, Sydney in 1978. In December that year she showed lithographs in a group exhibition at Stadia Graphics.

Susan engrossed herself in the art collections of Europe when the family lived in Germany in 1979. She saw works by some of her favourite artists such as Grünewald, Piero della Francesca, Bruegel the Elder, Riemenschneider and Rodin. The following year she returned to Munich where she held a solo exhibition of paintings, prints, and drawings. Visiting Berlin, she made many sketches and saw collections in the Pergamon, Käthe Kollwitz, and Dahlem museums. On returning to Sydney she held an exhibition of watercolours at the Seymour Centre: People of Sydney, Berlin & Munich.

From 1980 onwards Susan's prints represented Australia in international exhibitions, biennales, and triennales. Over the years she has participated in more than 60 such exhibitions, including the renowned Ljubljana Graphic Biennales in 1981 [The Empty Chair], 1983 [Chess], 1985 [Ghost of Kabbarli], 1987 [The Front Veranda] and 1991 [Cry Freedom]. Her woodcut Thelma of Wilcannia was accepted in the Intergrafik ’84 Triennale in Berlin and her lithograph Chess in the International Triennial Against War - Majdanek 85 in Lublin, and is now in the Lublin Museum. In 1984 Susan acquired a 19th c. Marinoni cast-iron press for stone lithography: The Story 1985 and the multi-coloured To Let (The Diabetic Evicted from The Rocks) 1990.

Susan took part in several exhibitions for the 1982 NSW Women and Arts Festival. Her painting Self-Portrait with Children 1982 was selected for the main exhibition From the Inside Out. She co-ordinated a group exhibition Eight Women Artists in the Glebe Town Hall, where she exhibited paintings and prints; the exhibition was reviewed in The Australian and The Sydney Morning Herald. She also mounted an Open Studio exhibition of lithographs during the festival.

In 1982 Susan set up weekly community classes in drawing at The Glebe Town Hall, then at the Annandale Neighbourhood Centre. She taught painting and drawing at the Strathfield Evening College from 1987 to 1990. In 1983 she held a solo exhibition of paintings and prints at the Sydney Goethe Institute.

In the mid-1980s Susan took up sculpture again, carving wood and stone. In 1983 she designed and carved a rose for the harpsichord that the family assembled: Blowflies (rose in harpsichord sound-hole) 1983; later she painted the lid and keywell: Stephen Climbing Our Blue-gum, with Coal and Candle Creek, Ku-ring-gai Chase, in Background 1984-88, Silver-eye in Our Flowering Gum 1984-88. In 1985 she enrolled in Michael Gill's workshops to hone her woodcarving skills [Companion for Brancusi's 'Young Man' 1986].

Susan held a solo exhibition at Balmain Gallery in 1986, where she showed woodcarvings for the first time, along with paintings, drawings and prints. In 1987 she took up stone carving under the sculptor Mitzi McColl, e.g., Yin & Yang 1987-88. Mitzi McColl also taught her sculpting in clay and mould-making for bronzes.

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» Childhood, student years (1951–1961)
» Early career (1962–1975)
» Mid-career to international (1976–1987)
» Mature years, international (1988–present)