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Susannah In Studio

Susannah Paterson

Neutral Bay, NSW

I am a painter, a potter living in and working from my home studio in Curl Curl on Sydney’s Northern Beaches,
I have two distinct styles in which I paint .One is abstract and the other more realistic, and the bridge between the two is that they are both about dream states, the unconscious mind, and what lies beyond our ordinary states of consciousness. I am a ceramicist too, and I make functional, sculptural and decorative work.


Artworks: 76

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About Susannah Paterson

Susannah Paterson (b. 1960, Scotland)

I am an internationally represented Scottish Australian painter and ceramicist living in Sydney, Australia. I create vibrant and powerful paintings about dream states and the symbolic, which often evokes comparisons to the work of Chagall. I am ceramicist too, and I enjoy making individual functional or sculptural pieces on the wheel or by hand.

I was born into a Scottish Highland farming family and was packed off to an English boarding school from the age of 8. My parents were divorced and both remarried – my father remaining on the farm in Scotland, and my mother moving to London, marrying a jazz pianist and living a very bohemian life. It was the stark contrast of these two existences that I found refuge in the creative – dreams, fantasy, music, stories and art.

After a career in the music industry promoting live concerts, I moved to Australia in 1995, and began to study psychotherapy concurrently with painting. I attended art school (Brookvale TAFE) for 2 years, but found the system stifling, robbing me of joy. , I left to continue developing my art practice on my own and with the sometimes tough mentoring of the late Australian artist Kerrie Lester.

My therapy practice pitched me into the world of human suffering and the quest for healing and transformation. I wanted to find that light in the darkness and the golden thread of hope and insight. Now, on my third career as a painter and a ceramicist, I realise I am doing the same thing. I am on a new quest to find treasures somewhere in between the marks I make, my own dreams, and my conscious skill.

As a therapist, I studied hypnotherapy, trance and dream states and I use this knowledge now to allow a painting to tell me what it wants to be. Whilst they all begin in the same way, some of the works are taken into a symbolic narrative suggested by the painting itself, whilst others are left in their evocative state. All the time I am looking for that potential, whether it is beauty, intrigue, or something providing a vehicle for conversation and reflection. I paint about infinity, and the infinite possibilities therein, working from a chaotic and unknown beginning, towards meaning and balance.

My ceramics are more traditional and they keep me grounded and centred. I am exploring ways to integrate the paintings and the pottery more, and have begun to paint snippets of my favourite bits from my images onto large wheel thrown platters.

I do see the creative process as an analogy of life. We are all born by chance, into some sort of chaos. Everything is unknown. The challenge for us is to create something meaningful and satisfying from the chaos and our inherited “marks”.. I am obsessed with colour and emotions and the need to keep drawing the viewer’s attention , as I might have drawn a client’s attention to what is unseen, unexpressed, invisible and what has the potential and infinite possibility to create something powerful.

March 2019

My most recent solo show was titled Evocative, after the painting, and was an  online exhibition with the Contemporary Art Awards in Sept 2018.

I have also had two successful solo shows in Sydney – Journeys, Dreams and Daemons at the Ewart Gallery (2013) and Three Points of Attention at me artspace (2015). I have also been part of many group shows and art prizes since 2007, the most recent being Once By Happenstance at the Glass Gallery in Glebe, Sydney.

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