Artist Statement

In my artwork I explore aspects of liminality in time and space, architecture and sacred spaces, topophilia and the personal nature of meditation. My art comes from the feeling, knowingly unknowing place in my soul. If I knew what I was doing at the start of the adventure of each painting, each artwork, where would be the fun in that? I see creativity as discovery rather than invention.

I have many themes and methodologies in my work, but all my activities are fundamentally the same; they are different ways of meeting the same problems and passions. It is the relationship between apparently disparate things that interests me – the magical particularity of things and places which somehow reminds us of the eternal and the universal.

To my mind there is a close connection between the written word and painting. They are both image producing activities and the desire for synthesis is always there. A painting may be inspired by a poem or a phrase, or a poem may come to me as I am painting. There is a cyclical, spiralling rhythm in the way I work; I come back to themes that have intruiged me for years and take them in new directions. From my interest in prehistory and archaeology I use the idea of stratigraphy – I layer with paint and collage and allow the work to develop in its own time, whether days, months or years.

One of my major themes is that of topophilia, the love for particular places, which incorporates the symbolic meaning and significance of landscapes and places with the inner, spiritual dimensions and realities of the individual. We all experience close cultural and emotional connections to specific places. Maybe we re-invent them too and make our own sacred places, which may or may not mean anything to other people. Many of my paintings are my meditations in visual form of places that I love and return to again and again for inspiration and connection.

The imaginal world of the Celtic heritage and languages of the British Isles is also important to me. The Celtic approach to life and spirituality presents to the mind a half aquatic, interim world of transparency and interpenetration of one element with another, of transposition and metamorphosis. I delight in its vision and ambiguity and I am happy to continue its traditions.

I like my paintings to have as much movement in them as is possible for static pieces. I borrow from Byzantine wall mosaic the idea of the work changing as you walk past it, as the light reflects at different angles and intensities from the various metallic, glassy and matt surfaces of the tesserae. I hope that the viewer will have a relationship with my work, noticing new things each time a piece is looked at. I would hate it if everything could be seen at first glance. I want my paintings to give up their secrets slowly.

Current Projects

How we meet in the Imaginal Space

Poetry and paintings with Polish poet and writer Monika Kostera.

Art, performance and Scottish storytelling

Cross border collaborative project with artists and storytellers in Scotland and North of England now in progress.

Celtic Connections Exhibition

Group exhibition in March 2016 where I will be exhibiting a series of my paintings on Irish themes.

Selected Recent Exhibitions

  • 2014 Laguna:Alba - from Italy to Scotland. Persistence Works, Sheffield
  • 2013 Ravenna Felix. Persistence Works, Sheffield
  • 2013 The Public, West Bromwich
  • 2013 Hope Valley Adventure Film Festival, Derbyshire
  • 2012 Topophilia. Persistence Works, Sheffield
  • 2012 Sheffield School of Art Retrospective. Porter Brook Gallery, Sheffield
  • 2012 The Public, West Bromwich
  • 2011 John Hardwick Pop -Up Gallery, Hathersage, Derbyshire
  • 2011 The Public, West Bromwich
  • 2010 Reveries and Contemplations. The Turner Museum of Glass, Sheffield
  • 2010 Spirit Lake/ Sacred Space. Persistence Works, Sheffield
  • 2010 Flow and Found. The Academy of Makers, Sheffield
  • 2009 Andamento - fine art mosaics. Persistence Works, Sheffield
  • 2009 Script. The Academy of Makers, Sheffield
  • 2008 The Sea Wall – seascapes from Ireland, Wales and the East Coast of Yorkshire. Persistence Works, Sheffield
  • 2008 Dreams of the Veneto – landscape and architecture of the Veneto. Persistence Works, Sheffield
  • 2007 Dreams of Venice - cityscape and architecture of Venice. Persistence Works, Sheffield
Susana North-Bates

Susana North-Bates