Home page story
Blogger profile: Suzy Waldron
In her final year at University College Falmouth, Suzy Waldron tells us about perspective in her work and balancing visual-practice with her written dissertation.
Brought up in Torquay, Devon, Suzy completed her art foundation course at King Edward VI Community College in Totnes and started her BA(Hons) in Fine Art at University College Falmouth in 2009.
“My work explores the perception and visual representation of information. By revealing the underlying structures of our world that are detectable, but not entirely comprehensible I experiment with the way we interpret space and scale through the language of mapping. My working process involves tracing elements of satellite and microscope imagery, maps, and my own photographs and observational sketches. These are then built up in translucent layers of oil paint and line drawing, creating paintings that represent fragmented perspectives.”
Richard Taylor: I am interested in your sourcing and use of existing modes of navigation and exploration, and then the acquisition of your own 'mapping', such as the photographs you take and the sketches you make. What is the connection, and why do you use both methods of collecting information instead of just one?
Suzy Waldron: I look to create a sense of disorientation by combining aerial views, such as maps and satellite photos, with more close-up drawings. From a formal perspective, using these secondary source materials allows me to get more of a contrast in scale, and therefore heighten this feeling of disorientation. I think my interest in maps and navigation charts comes from a fascination with the way we visualise information: everything you need to know about space, terrain, the elements, all condensed into a visual language of lines and colours. However, it's also important for me to use my own images. I think that using the secondary sources alone would make my work feel impersonal. By following my intuition when it comes to documenting shapes, forms or colours that take my interest, I'm exploring the realm of my own visual perception, which brings a human element to the paintings.
RT: Could you tell me more about the 'other studio' mentioned in your blog: the space you set up in your garage away from the eyes of your peers at college. Do you still use it, and do you think that its purpose will always be relevant as a place to experiment?
SW: I set up the studio in my garage when I was having a bad week, feeling low in confidence, and painting in there in the evening seemed like a good thing to do to get rid of some tension and to just throw some paint around. I haven't used it for that purpose since: if I go in there now it's usually to continue work pursued during the week. However, I can see myself reverting to that kind of experimentation again when the need arises. I think that initial session did the trick though; I am more comfortable with loosening up in the university studio now. My housemate loves the garage studio though and the three of us that live there have done some very messy but fun collaborative paintings as a break from evening dissertation writing!
RT: So lets talk a little about your dissertation then - how are you balancing your visual practice alongside reading, researching and writing?
SW: I did most of my research for the dissertation over summer and in the first few weeks of term, so at the moment I'm just getting on with writing it, without too many distractions. I'm currently about two-thirds of the way through. At Falmouth our final mark consists of 20% dissertation, 80% studio practice. I still spend most of my day in the studio, then usually three to four hours in the afternoon and evening writing. I am finding that they complement and feed each other quite nicely: as I'm writing about the other artists' work, it helps me to uncover certain things about my own practice, which then goes on to drive further ideas.
RT: How does writing about your own work in your blog marry up with the same process of uncovering new ideas in your practice?
SW: I think writing about my work for a potential audience who have no previous experience of it forces me to convey my ideas in a clear and concise way, more than I would writing when my sketchbook or talking with tutors or friends. This has allowed me to identify the key aspects of my practice, and then to go back into the studio and think about how I can build on these central themes, or introduce new ones.
Writing the blog helps me place myself as if I am seeing the work for the first time, as a reader would. It allows me to explore whether I would get the same ideas from the work that I intended to put across when making it in the first place. The blog also lets me to take a step back from the studio 'bubble' and consider my work in the context of the wider art community.
RT: That is a very interesting way of talking about your use of a blog. I have a conversation the other day, which revolved around how, in some respects, making a successful piece of work depends on how you document it: after all more people are likely to see your work online, on a website or blog or a portfolio site than the smaller number of visitors who see work in an exhibition. What are your thoughts on this?
SW: I agree that the online documentation of work is very important. In some ways I think it's a shame that most of the artwork we see is in reproduction, as it's such a different experience to seeing it live and as the artist intended. On the other hand, the vast majority of artists I've been influenced by I have discovered through reproduction, either in books, journals, or on the internet.
Like you say, by posting work in a blog or portfolio site, it's likely to reach a larger and more diverse audience. I also think it's a great way to get a more personal perspective on the work, as it is often the artists themselves that create and maintain these sites. It makes them seem more accessible, and also provides a platform for feedback on works in progress. Having said that, I don't think that the experience of artwork on the Internet could ever replace that of seeing it in an exhibition, for the artist or the viewer. There is no substitute for seeing the scale and texture of the work on a first-hand basis, as well as witnessing the influence an exhibition context has on it.
RT: How do you approach documenting your work, and how do you see the Internet as a place for enhancing your profession?
SW: My approach to documenting my work has come about mainly through use of a sketchbook or journal, which has been a requirement of both my foundation and degree courses. It is only recently that I've posted my work online. I write quite a lot in my sketchbook, but I wouldn't say that articulating ideas about my work comes naturally to me. I have no doubt that recording what I do is beneficial to my practice, but I have to consciously think about doing it rather than it being an indispensable addition to my working process. This has been one advantage of writing a blog on Degrees unedited: knowing that my work is being seen and judged by people in a wider context spurs me on to keep a thorough record of what I'm doing and why I'm doing it.
RT: How do you stay true to form though, for instance when you do sit down and write a blog post do you bend the truth, or make what you say fictional in any way? When I first started my blog on Artists talking back in 2009 I was so honest and detailed that I could have just as easily given away my ideas for someone else to realise. I then started to write more creatively, and now the posts are more fictional, which happens to inform my own working practice rather than be informative to the reader. What do you think - is the Internet a place that allows you to play around with how your work is received?
SW: To be honest I have never thought about blogging in that way, and now I have considered this a bit (and had a better look at your blog), I see what you mean. I don't think I bend the truth in any conscious way when I write a post. I try not to get bogged down in detail mainly for the sake of the reader, but maybe I should be more wary of giving away my ideas!
I think the Internet is a place to experiment with how you can put across your work, but I don't think I've done too much of that so far…
Find out more about Suzy's practice in her blog. Read on »
Read more Blogger profiles here »
I am a 2012 graduate of BA(Hons) Fine Art at University college Falmouth, currently undertaking a residency at Totnes Art and Design Foundation Course. I concentrate mainly on painting and drawing, and am particularly interested in the themes of mapping, geography and spatial perception.
First published: a-n.co.uk December 2011
Comments on this article
Post your comment
To post a comment you need to login
© the artist(s), writer(s), photographer(s) and a-n The Artists Information Company
All rights reserved.
Artists who are current subscribers to a-n may download or print this text for the limited purpose of use in their business or professional practice as artists.
Parts of this text may be reproduced either in accordance with the provisions of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (updated) or with written permission of the publishers.