Ones to Watch: Interview with Susan Leeson

Find out more about Susan's work in our artist interview!

May 29th, 2020

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Your full name, and university course/year.

Susan Leeson, Hull School of Art and Design, MA Creative Practice, 2018- 2020.

Can you describe your work to us in 3 words?

Water themed printmaking.

What medium do you prefer to use?

Linocut and screenprinting.

What is the inspiration behind your work?

Texture, colour and shape observed through the way water surface signals what lies beneath; the East Coast of Yorkshire.

What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?

My Pfeil linoleum cutter tools.

During this uncertain time what will you do to occupy yourself?

I’m working on a large scale three plate linoprint of “Sea Waves”. I’ve set up a studio a bright garden room using our dining table as my workbench. A large sheet of MDF works as my print table and I’m using a SlamaPress hand baron to print. I’m also planting an allotment in the garden and cooking meals from scratch. I exercise each morning following “PE with Joe Wickes” on YouTube.

Which artists are you most influenced by?

David Hockney, Henry Matisse, Norman Ackroyd, Katsushika Hokusai, JMW Turner, Egon Schiele, Yves Klein, Hurvin Anderson, Olafur Eliasson, Peter Westcott, Merlyn Chesterman, Emma Stibbon, Sherrie York.

How do you seek out opportunities?

Local Open Exhibitions; Hull Print Collective Exhibitions (I’m a member); PopUp Shop Opportunities on Humber Street, Hull; Form Shop and Studio stock my prints; Opportunities advertised on Curator Space.

Which current art world trend are you following?

“People of Print” and other print studios. As new ways to use and experiment with print are being developed worldwide, there are many print workshops flourishing, such as “KOPIJ” print club in Hasselt, Belgium, and “Felledverkstedet” in Oslo, Norway. KOPIJ is an open workspace for practical experiments in print, and a meeting place for print lovers. Felledverkstedet, meaning “shared workshop”, is “a diverse collection of workshop facilities, with support from skilled staff on-hand ready to help… all under the same roof”. These, and many more print workshops are challenging the boundaries of print by combining analogue techniques with digital tools. For example, in the same facility, CNC-milling, the automated computer numerical control of machining tools such as drills, boring tools, and lathes, is used in conjunction with silkscreen, and letterpress print with laser cutting.

Plans for the future?

I’d like to open my own print studio with gallery space.

Tell us about an exhibition that has stayed with you.

You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966-1970, V&A, 2016.

Any books/ films/tv series that you’d recommend for anyone interested in art?

• Film: Caravaggio (1986); Frida (2002); Lust for Life (1956); Mr Turner (2014).

• TV: The Great Interior Design Challenge; The Great Pottery Throw Down; The Shock of the New; The Victorian House of Arts and Craft; What do Artists do all Day?

• Books: People of Print, Marcey Smith & Andy Cooke; Printmakers’ Secrets, Anthony Dyson; Printmaking: Traditional & Contemporary Techniques, Ann D’Arcy Hughes; Screenprinting: The Ultimate Studio Guide from Sketchbook to Squeegee, Print Club London; The Shock of the New: Art and the Century of Change; Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to Researching with Visual Materials, Gillian Rose.

• Theatre: Red, John Logan.

What are your favourite Instagram accounts?

• East London Printmakers.

• Londonprintstudio.

• Pressing Matters magazine.

• Thames-Side Studios.

• West Yorkshire Print Workshop.

• Woolwich Contemp Print Fair.

What is your dream project?

To hold an exhibition of my “water” themed prints in my own print studio/gallery space.

What is your most successful piece of work and why?

Robin Hood’s Bay: it’s an early print of a local beauty spot. I’ve been visiting Robin Hood’s Bay since a child and I enjoyed honing my cutting and printing skills on a subject matter close to my heart. I’ve run an edition of 30 and have just a couple left. I think it’s popular because of the location and the detail in the print. It’s probably not my best print in terms of expertise, but it is my most successful.

Find out more about Susan’s work here.

Read about all the Ones to Watch artists here.

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