- Brewery Tap Folkestone
- South East England
I had seen an example of Sue’s Fletcher’s work almost exactly a year ago when I attended an MA open day at University of the Creative Arts (UCA) and she presented to us, aspiring students. I was intrigued by it then, it was so delicate, so precise, so intimate. It was encouraging to see …..could I possibly achieve such subtlety?
Sue’s exhibition was a must-see for me, nearly a year into my MA and since Sue had completed hers. I had met her several times in between and found many similarities in our biographies. She had had a whole career too before deciding that her priority would be to make her own work.
The Brewery Tap is a gallery in Folkestone which is used by UCA as a project space for current and past students. It is an invaluable and relatively safe space to try out new work and to make work for – nothing quite like a deadline to concentrate the mind. Its previous life as a pub is evidenced by the sign and Victorian tiling outside. Inside, the size and light are perfect for a small gallery though still quite daunting to ‘fill’ with a solo show.
Yet it was a surprise to see how perfectly the work fitted, how coherently it sat within the space whilst remaining fairly minimal. The vintage viewfinders were recognisable from the earlier presentation. Given the intimacy of Sue’s work it seems a perfect device to draw you in…to make you look more closely, to peer. The fine tracery of marks, burns and stitches felt familiar now but still intriguing. What do these small violences mean, whose are they, what are we to understand by them? I see pain, but whose is it and how was it inflicted? I see the Bourgeois red rope, though here a thread, a thin slice…..connective tissue. But then there’s the deck-chair…redolent of lazy summer days, beach-fun, sun-healing, colour, replenishment….all woven together. Still the blood-skein. I learn later that the deck-chair is a self-portrait.
I’m excited by the ‘furniture’ … the little box of drawers that invites us in to have a look-see; the antique paper ‘handbag’ lit from within; the taxidermy dome…are they frames for the work or part of it? These are carefully chosen for their history or at least for the quiet residue of it, the marks and scars over time. There is even a burnt piece of paper in a drawer…if you look very closely you can see the words ‘due date’…..a library ticket? I decide that the pieces are all of a piece, they are part of the work, integral to it.
My analytical nature drove me towards Sue, to talk to her about her work, its influences, its processes, its meanings…..we talked and talked. I learned that Richard Tuttle was an important influence….of course…..
“Tuttle’s work exists in the space between painting, sculpture, poetry, assemblage, and drawing. He draws beauty out of humble materials, reflecting the fragility of the world in his poetic works”.
….I could place Sue’s work here, alongside his…but then, I also thought about Phyllida Barlow’s writing of Eva Hesse’s work and her warning:
“…these processes become identified with Hesse and with a coded message that this is ‘emotional art’ because it is wordless; it is primal….’personal’; about ‘feelings’…this difficulty for making a critical and descriptive language for the work itself, rather than avoid the work by jumping to critiques and theories culled from existing canons which substitute for the actuality of what is there” (Barlow, 2004)
The actuality of what is there in Sue’s work is an eloquent, whispered, discrete interaction between her and us.
Postscript: Sue Fletcher is currently artist in residence at the University for the Creative Arts in Canterbury, where she will be having a solo show of new work in October 2015.