As an artist/ designer based in Albany on the south coast of West Australia- Sue has worked in the arts for over 35 years since completing a Fine Arts degree at Curtin University in Perth in 1988. With a deep passion for travel and exploring different cultures, Sue's creative life has included community arts projects in remote rural Tibetan communities; Quezon City in the Philippines; the Australian territory of Christmas Island; numerous remote First Nations communities in the West Australian and Northern Territory deserts; as well as exhibition curation, public art projects, public commissions, and artist residencies. Her work is represented in many private and public collections.
These days her focus is This Papercut Life - Sue's studio- where she designs and creates distinctive papercut, woodcuts, jewellery, bowls and coasters. As well as handcutting large paper artworks she also uses the technology of lasercutting to cut and etch her designs in paper, perspex, and wood. Her detailed and often complex images have a playful and figurative storytelling element with themes of community, environment, family and place.
She also runs her Artists Apartment BNB which is located in the centre of Albany (with her studio next door) and showcases many of her artworks.
"I have always made some sort of a living from my creative pursuits. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I love the freedom of being 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. 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 at a local art and craft gallery. 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 thriving small creative 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 First Nation communities in the West Australian and Northern Territory deserts. Mostly funded by arts grants.
This all happened in conjunction with my painting which I would regularly exhibit. 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 became 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.
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 to help me. This technology has enabled my design work to expand in both materials and applications. I can create one single design in numerous ways- and using a range of materials including paper, Perspex, and local timbers.
Qualities such as passion, perseverance, flexibility, and openness are helpful to have. 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. As an artist and traveller the important thing is the journey and I travel with an innate curiosity about life- which in turn feeds my creative life. "