Monday, April 18, 2011

Susan Buret: Potent Beauty

Exit Tarabulum - 2011
Mixed Media on Linen
100cm x 100cm

Susan Buret is an artist who lives and works in New South Wales, Australia. In the "olden days" - pre-world wide web - I might never have had the opportunity to see her work unless images were published in one of the major art magazines or she had an exhibition in a gallery here in the US so thank you WWW.

I was first attracted to Susan's work due to her use of patterns which are very traditional in printed textiles and interior design. I also loved her very beautiful use of pastel color. I have stated before that I am always interested in art that isn't really a textile but in some way refers to textiles. In the case of Susan's work, it has a visual reference to patterns but there is a social/political component.

When I first viewed her work my impression was of beautiful fabric, wallpaper or 1980's pattern paintings. When I viewed a detail I could then see layers of information which have been incorporated and hidden in plain sight. I hope you enjoy Susan's profile and her work.

Interview With Susan Buret

Terry: When did you recognize the potential for political commentary through your work?

Susan: In 2005 I made a series of works using shredded copies of an extract from my birth certificate. At the time I made the work I was enraged at the stereotypical image that one would form from reading the brief amount of information on the document. This led me to think about the assumptions we make from the limited amount of information on identity documents in general and the way one's fate can be decided on the basis of this information. Australia is a country where immigrants vastly outnumber the indigenous people and throughout our short history since white settlement we have had waves of immigration from a number of different countries. We also have refugees arriving frequently with no documentation at all. There has been a great deal of controversy about the large number of refugee applicants arriving and their treatment so I began working with shredded copies of passports and visas to explore the issue of using documentation to determine if one would be welcomed and admitted to Australia as a refugee.

Adrift In Hope - 2010
Mixed Media on Linen
100cm x 140cm

Terry: There are direct visual references in your work to many types of decorative patterns most often used in textiles or home surfaces such as wallpaper and quilt patterns. Tell us about your use of this format, how it began and what it means to you.

Susan: I love pattern and have always been fascinated with pattern from textiles, carpets, china and tiles. The decoration we apply to our environment for me signifies the claiming of our cultural background and also the security of a safe place that we can freely call home.

Alla Turca - 2010
Mixed Media on Canvas
80cm x 80cm

Terry: Are the patterns and formats selected primarily on the basis of their esthetic appeal or do you choose them to connect with specific groups of people?

Susan: Aesthetic appeal is definitely a major factor in the selection of patterns. I love geometric patterns and I am drawn to the patterns in oriental carpets, Indian textiles, Amish quilts and the mosaics which appear in churches and mosques. These patterns represent groups of people for whom the right to religious freedom and cultural practices has often been hard won. So I am able to work with imagery that pleases me and strengthens the conceptual content of my work.

Wings Help 2 -
Mixed Media on Linen
100cm x 100cm

Terry: How do you describe your style of working?

Susan: I often have trouble answering this question, as I don't think collage really describes my work. I am more of a quilter, embroiderer, mosaicist working with paint, canvas and paper. Printmakers often claim me because a lot of my work was over printed with linocut stamps.

Terry: Do you ever work in other mediums?

Susan: I have made some works which are just paintings and they have geometry based imagery. I have also made several video and installation works and would like to explore these areas further.

Dream Cabinets #1-5 Verso
Mixed Media on Beech Panels
20cm x 31cm x 16cm when open

Terry: What has been the biggest obstacle to making your art and how have you overcome that obstacle?

Susan: Time and age. I came back to my arts practice after many years of running my own business. While I haven't had any real obstacles to producing my work, I am acutely aware of the amount of time I have left to make all the work I want to produce. Young artists fight this battle from a different angle as they juggle working for a living with finding the time to make work.

I am also aware that as an older female artist, there are some doors closed to me. Some gallery directors are definitely ageist and I am fortunate to be represented by Anita Traverso, who regards life's experience as a plus.

Terry: How do you manage your studio time with research, promotion and daily life?

Susan: I try to work in the studio every day unless there is something more pressing to attend to and I am very good at ignoring tasks like housework! Because the studio is in my back garden I often work 7 days a week.

Research is ongoing and I don't consciously put aside time for it.

While I am very conscious of the need for promotion, I have to be honest and say that sometimes I really have to push myself to do it. I know I should try to blog more regularly but I sometimes dry up and prefer to spend the time making work.

I feel very lucky to live in the age of digital communication where I can be part of an international community of artists. I find this contact inspires and feeds my practice.

Terry: What is your proudest accomplishment?

Susan: I have won a couple of major Australian art awards but my proudest achievement was being selected as a finalist for the Blake Prize, an award for works dealing with issues of spirituality and social justice.

Susan Buret in the studio


Susan has an excellent WEBSITE. Here you will be able to read her many statements regarding different bodies of work and see a full listing of her many exhibitions.

Thank you Susan for sharing your work here.

Thank you for spending time at Studio 24-7.
I love hearing from you and Remember:

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  1. Love Susan's work. LOVE. Thank you for sharing with us Terry!

  2. Terry thank you so much for your interest in my work. I'm delighted to be featured on your wonderful blog.

  3. Thank you Susan. It is my pleasure and I love having the opportunity to work with you.

  4. Fabulous introduction to an exciting and interesting artist I didn't know. Thank you!

  5. Thank you Vivien. I love her incorporation of textile inspired elements.