Oct 30th 2019
Every Month we will showcase three Visual Arts Scotland members, spotlighting their work & practice.
These showcased members will be chosen by a monthly guest curator. The invited curator will select makers & artists that interest them from our amazing membership. This will be based on a theme of their choice.
Curator: Susanna Beaumont
Susanna Beaumont is a curator and mentor. She has wide-reaching experience of working with artists and designers to deliver site-specific projects, commissions and exhibitions in Scotland and beyond.
In 2018 Susanna launched Design Exhibition Scotland, a pioneering project championing design excellence and exploration with the expressed wish to raise the visibility of contemporary designers working in Scotland.
An energetic thinker and innovator, Susanna is passionate about advocacy, reaching a wide public audience and supporting the resolutely contemporary. She was the founder director of doggerfisher Edinburgh (2000-2010) the celebrated contemporary gallery, where she championed the early careers of many now critically acclaimed artists.
Previous positions include director of Frith Street Gallery, London; guest curator at Jupiter Artland; acting director Outset Scotland and mentor to the Fleming-Wyfold Foundation. In 2016 she co-curated with Amanda Game NL20 commissions to celebrate the 20th anniversary of North Lands Creative Glass, working with the artist designer maker, Geoffrey Mann, on a site specific installation for Dovecot, Edinburgh.
Tell us a little bit about your artistic background/education
In 1997 I travelled from Canada to Scotland on a year-long holiday and fell in love with Scotland – I’ve lived here ever since. I worked in retail for several years before attending a jewellery workshop taught by the jeweller, Anna Gordon where I experienced that ‘light bulb’ moment when I realised that jewellery was what I wanted to pursue as a career. I had to start from scratch but after completing a portfolio preparation course I was accepted into the jewellery program at Edinburgh College of Art. I studied under Dorothy Hogg and graduated in 2006. I was awarded funding to pursue a post graduate year after which I developed my practice alongside a selection of part time jobs to make the end. I now currently split my time between making jewellery and teaching from my studio in Dunblane.
Could you describe your practice?
In my practice I employ a diverse range of processes that include casting, carving, etching, laser cutting, powder-coating and sewing in addition to traditional metal work techniques. Achieving a high quality finish is particularly important in my work as I am predominately working in non-precious materials. I specialise in the use of eco-friendly resins and frequently incorporate found objects in my work. My aim is to incorporate them so fully into the design that the viewer will be surprised when they discover the re-appropriated, reclaimed or recycled aspects of a piece. Working in this manner I hope to examine the cultural context in which design operates, investigating where connections exist between the environment, adornment, and consumer society.
What are your art influences? Which contemporary artists/makers do you admire and why?
I’m often very drawn to artists who have a bold use of colour or mixed media artists. From the jewellery world, artists such as Denise Julia Reytan, Anna Talbot, Lyndsay Rice, Nikki Coupee, Peter Chang and Helen Britton to name a few. More generally, I take a great amount of inspiration from the natural world and traditional craft techniques such as weaving and wood carving.
What makes a good day in the studio for you?
As a small business owner it is very easy to be overrun with day-to-day admin so a good day in the studio is one where I get some time creating at my bench! Some good music, plenty of coffee and my sketchbook would definitely be on the list as well. My favourite moments in the studio are those ‘A-ha!’ moments when the concept suddenly aligns with the form I’m trying to create. The problem solving aspect of creating work is a big part of the appeal for me.
In the studio – music, audiobook, podcast, Radio or silence?
I’m far too easily distracted and I would definitely start focusing on an audio book or podcast to the extent that all work would stop! Six Music can generally be relied as some decent background noise but I’m equally happy to work away in silence. The exception being if I have a tight deadline – I’ve got an upbeat, cheesy playlist to get me though.
What is coming up next for you and where can we see more of you work?
My work is far better travelled than I am! I currently have work in two different travelling exhibitions.
FERROcity is an exhibition that brings together fascinating artistic responses to the theme of iron by twenty-two contemporary makers. The show opened in Germany and ran in tandem with the city’s international jewellery fair ‘Inhorgenta’ in February 2019 and ‘International Jewellery Week’ and ‘Schmuck’ exhibitions in March 2019. The show is currently in China showing in Beijing at the Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology and in Shanghai at the Academy of International Visual Arts.
I am also really pleased to be taking part in a group show entitled, The Strength of Textile which is currently touring Europe. The show does not necessarily focus on jewellers who use fabric as their main material but rather features work where a quality that suggests a relationship to textiles, regardless of the material and technique used.
A little closer to home I will be showing work at the upcoming Visual Arts Scotland show from my new latest research entitled, Omnium Gatherum - a project developed in response to the current climate crisis. The project encompasses my ambition of applying principles of the circular economy to my output, and documents the journey of converting my jewellery business to a sustainable model. This body of work and the resulting project aims to highlight how designers can become a transformative force in environmental sustainability.