As an artist located in the beautiful and historic city of Albany on the south coast of West Australia, and notching up over 25 years in the arts since completing a Fine Arts degree at Curtin University in Perth in 1988, Sue's creative life has included community arts projects in culturally amazing environments such as remote rural Tibetan communities; Quezon City slum areas in the Philippines; Christmas Island- the Australian territory way off the coast of West Australia and closer to Indonesia; and numerous remote Aboriginal communities in the West Australian and Northern Territory deserts, as well as exhibition curation, public art projects- and artist residencies including the Port Macquarie Australia Council Artist in Residency in NSW.
In 2010 and while in cancer treatment, Sue began the design studio This Papercut Life which is a real passion. She designs and creates contemporary papercuts and woodcuts, jewellery, art objects, and designs for public spaces. As well as handcutting large paper artworks she also uses the technology of lasercutting to cut and etch her designs in paper, perspex, wood and occasionally metal. Her detailed and often complex images have a distinctive playful and figurative storytelling element with themes of community, environment, family and place.
Her work is represented in many public and private collections and she has received numerous awards. A full CV can be downloaded at the bottom of the page.
"I have always made some sort of a living from my creative pursuits. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I love freedom and I like to be the director of my own life.
Creativity and business are in my genes. My mother was an artist and I grew up amongst a lively arts community. But my sense of business comes from my Dutch trading heritage on my father’s side. Dad was born in Gouda in Holland and who at 87 still runs a successful farming business. Growing up on a farm instilled me with a sense of independence and resourcefulness. As a kid I was always drawing, or creating imaginary worlds in the bush. Lots of space and nature fuelled my world.
As a teenager I made elaborate mobiles from beach findings and sold them. I studied Fine Arts at Curtin University and as an art student I taught myself leadlighting and sold leadlight mobiles made from recycled glass offcuts which would supplement my painting. In the 90’s I made brightly decorated mirrors from recycled gyprock offcuts and this also grew into a business. I used to exhibit in Melbourne & Sydney at the huge Reed Gift Fairs and as a result I stocked many shops around Australia, and some overseas.
I then got into Community arts using the medium of mosaics and this took me far and wide on projects and residencies from Christmas Island, to the Philippines and Tibet, and to numerous remote aboriginal communities in the WA and NT deserts. Mostly funded by arts grants.
This all happened in conjunction with my painting, which I would regularly exhibit and sell. So my work has always been in the arts but always exploring and moving in a range of creative directions.
The catalyst for my current creative business ‘This Papercut Life’ resulted from a cancer diagnosis in 2010. In short I had a lot of love sent my way. My art changed and became more about sending that goodwill out in gratitude. I also realised that I just wanted to be in my studio designing, making and creating. And I wanted a slower gentler stress free life.
This Papercut Life has grown and expanded over the last 5 years. I create a range of papercuts, woodcuts, jewellery, and home wares. I stock 22 shops and galleries around Australia and have a website and an online store in which which I receive orders from around the world. I also create artwork for exhibitions and competitions, and receive both private and corporate commissions. Running my own creative business is as much about lifestyle. I enjoy my life in Albany and I also get to travel extensively which is another one of my passions.
Originally I started by hand cutting all my artworks with a scalpel knife but demand grew and my shoulder ached so I bought a lasercutter (and recently a second larger one) to help me. This technology has enabled my design work to expand in both materials and applications- and in production. I can create one single design in numerous ways- and using a range of materials including paper, Perspex, and local timbers.
My inspiration comes from the appreciation of the big things in life and include themes of people, family, community, and environment. There is a strong storytelling aspect to my designs and they remind me of the drawings I did prolifically as a child.
Qualities such as passion, perseverance, flexibility, and openness are all good to have in abundance when running a creative business. Energy is a precious thing and when its focused into something you are passionate about it can be a very powerful thing. But you need to cultivate that energy by looking after yourself: Eating well, exercising, taking time out to refuel, and cultivating balance and kindness.
For me the important thing is the journey. I have no doubt I will experience much more as I travel this road and discover and move in new creative directions, especially with the realisation that life is too short not to do what makes you happy and what you love doing."
For further information, click here to view my Curriculum Vitae. Sue Codee 2018
Lata Wright Photography