ADVENTurous is an open submission exhibition exploring the christmas narrative, which we're staging in 3 UK venues during advent this year : at Engedi in Colwyn Bay, Leftbank in Leeds and the Union Chapel in Islington, London.

The work exhibited at Union Chapel will also be part of the one-day ‘ADVENTurous' conference, hosted by Greenbelt Festival and partners.

On this blog we'll be posting regular updates about how plans for the Leftbank Leeds show are progressing, with information about the contributing artists, and possibly some previews of the work being created for the exhibition...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Introducing... Susie Liddle

"Elsewhere" was included in the Engedi Easter project

LB: We're really looking forward to having your screen prints in the show! Could you tell us a little more about you and your work?

Susie: Unfortunately because of other commitments and deadlines, plus a month of open studios in September, I have run out of time to do all the separations for screen printing. There are 6 small pictures in all (it's a comic strip) and each one has between 5 and 8 separations which works out somewhere around 40 separate screen images. It is as much work to do screens for one set of prints as it is to do a print run of an edition of 50. To make matters worse I can only have access to an exposure unit & vacuum print bed for a couple of hours on Monday & Tuesday evenings as it’s a shared facility in a college. So I was left with two choices.... either to reduce the number of images to 1or 2 or submit the original drawings and not screen prints as I planned.. As reducing the number of images would really spoil the narrative I decided to submit the original drawings and keep the story line complete...

LB: So it sounds like it was quite important to you to stay true to the story of Advent, especially with the use of a comic strip style. What does Advent mean to you?



S: That's a big question to answer as Advent has meant many things to me in my life…I guess that as a little girl it was about Santa and worrying if I had been good enough to get my presents. There were always identical red zip front slippers for me, my brother and sister and one year the most longed for gift ever.....a set of poster paints! Like all children I learned the story of Christmas, took part in the school Nativity play and Christmas carol service and hoped desperately that I wouldn't be chosen to play the donkey. I never got to be Mary but I did get to play an angel. The years passed and I became a mum myself and Advent became a hectic whirl of planning, shopping and sitting in the audience watching my own children at their concerts and plays. Such beautiful pageants that they brought tears to my eyes. Lately I have watched with the deepest love as my grandaughters have performed the same age old rituals. Throughout these periods of my life the link has always been family. Time for gathering together as a family and for remembering the loved ones no longer with us. Because of the great joy I get from my own family, my thoughts at this time of the year turn more and more to those who lack the comfort of a family around them. I know that I have never been truly hungry; have never had to spend a night sleeping rough; have never felt that nobody cared for me. On every street in every town and city there are so many people young and old for whom these things are a daily reality. Whilst they lack the basic needs of shelter, warmth, company and food, all around them folk are indulging in a whirlwind of spend, spend, spend. I shall plan carefully over Advent and ensure that I can support charities such as Crisis to help as many needy people as possible.

LB: It's lovely to hear all the memories and warm feelings that Advent brings to you (especially your passion for art at a young age!), as well as remembering those who aren't able to feel such things at that time of year. How did creating your piece for Adventurous reflect these feelings?

Susie: My 'Adventurous' piece has definitely been inspired by my feelings at this time of year. All my work comes from somewhere deep inside me where the store of life experiences, hopes and dreams reside. I think this is common to all artists.
I thought about the Christmas story....of a young couple on the road, she's pregnant, they are struggling to find shelter and then decided to translate this into today's world. I chose to use a comic strip style to present the story for several reasons. Firstly, pictures on church walls and windows were historically used as a way to tell Bible stories to the illiterate masses. Secondly, we now live in a world of technology where instant communication and information is the order of the day. People want information fed to them in quick snapshots. Speed rules and so I reflected this in the way I tell my story. And finally, I took the title of the project 'Adventurous' and decided to step out of my comfort zone and take an adventurous approach to this piece of work in creating a comic strip.

LB: It's really interesting to hear how your work is evolving with society yet still reflects the past! I'm interested to know whether you see art that depicts religious stories as purely functional or whether they reflect something of the artist's spiritual feelings/journey?

Susie: I said earlier that artists would decorate church walls and windows as a way of telling Bible stories to the masses. Sort of book illustration without the book.. However, one only has to look at the work of the great artists of the Renaissance to see that there is much more to their religious art than functional storytelling. To take just one example, Michelangelo doesn't just settle for illustrating the story with his Pieta. The depth of emotion he evokes as the Virgin Mary holds her dead son transcends functionality and becomes art at its purest and finest. Why does he show Mary as a young woman rather than the middle aged one she would have been? Portraying Mary as a young mother heightens the emotional sense of a mother losing her child. Michelangelo doesn’t just want us to view his Pieta, he actually wants us to feel how she feels.

LB: It'll be so interesting to see what feelings the ADVENTurous artists evoke in our audience. Finally, you said that the comic strip style was out of your comfort zone. What’s your usual style?

Susie: I am a printmaker with a leaning towards mixed media installation. I often use vintage photographs, alter them and print them using cyanotype. I will then add other layers like paper-cuts, screen-prints and text to build up the completed work. Sometimes I work on textiles and incorporate them into larger installations. I will use whatever medium and material works best for what I am doing. For Adventurous I knew what I wanted to say and screen print was ideal. The comic strip was a big step away from my usual style of using vintage photographic imagery.


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