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Sue Spence Textile Art – Sunday Artist Interview

Continuing with my Sunday Artist Interviews, now it’s 5 month and going brilliantly! I can’t even describe how happy I am that these have caught on… Please do take a look back at the other artists who have willingly answered the questions, but for now, here’s the lovely Sue from Sue Spence Textile Art to tell us who she is and of course, her favourite cheese…

First of all, who are you?

Hello dear reader, Sue from beautiful Cornwall here ??Having taught English to 11-18 year olds all my working life, I retired from running a busy department in 2012 and since then have been rediscovering my love of embroidery and exploring my creative side. Just over three years ago I reawakened ‘Frogstitch’, the little cross stitching enterprise I’d started up when I took a career break to have my two children. Last year I finally believed sufficiently in my work to change its name to ‘Sue Spence Textile Art’. I hand stitch the occasional brooch, and decorative pieces which range from traditional embroideries to mixed media collage using mostly vintage materials, including paper and found objects. 

When you were asked (all those years ago!), “what do you want to be when you grow up?”  What did you answer?

This depends what age you’d asked me … I might have said nun, librarian, teacher, actress, or opera singer. 

What is the funniest thing as an artist that has ever happened to you?

Funny things don’t seem to come my way ? Though I was mildly amused by the ladies who looked at my stand at a textile fair and asked ‘What sort of stitch is Frogstitch?’

What is the hardest part of being creative?

Hand embroidery is a very slow art, and I am not known for my patience. I often get bored with a project before it’s finished, and long to get on with the next idea which is nagging at me. So the hardest thing is just keeping the momentum going to complete one of my many works in progress!

What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?

Enjoy playing and experimenting with your materials; never stop learning, and make what you love with a passion.

What subjects inspire you?

The natural world, especially wildflowers and trees – I had a summer holiday project at 12 to make a pressed wildflower collection, and this cemented my lifelong interest. Beaches, and what washes up out of the sea are endlessly fascinating. And I’m a lover of words … myth, fairy tale, story, Literature …. 

Who are the 3 greatest living artists in your opinion? (they don’t have to be famous!)

What an impossible question – there are so many more than three! I can only say that I’m fascinated by the work of Paula Rego and Anselm Kiefer, and that I love Andrew Waddington’s paintings very much and am lucky enough to own some. In my own field of textile art, I have huge admiration for the work of Jenni Dutton and Janine Heschl. 

Who are the 3 greatest dead artists in your opinion?

Another impossible question! I’m going to ignore numbers again, I’m afraid! … Hieronymus Bosch, Goya and Salvador Dali disturb, chill, fascinate and amuse in different degrees! Frieda Kahlo’s work is endlessly intriguing – my MA dissertation focused on her self portraits and diary. Augustus Pugin was a brilliant architect, designer and artist, and William Blake was quite simply a genius – and my favourite poet too.

What is your favourite work of art you have ever produced?

Wrong to have favourite ‘children’! But this envelope transformation was an absolute labour of love as it was created for my daughter. She is a writer, and loves Jane Austen’s novels, so this commemorative first day cover envelope was the perfect base for a piece celebrating her favourite novel, ‘Persuasion’. It’s probably the most heavily embroidered of my transformation pieces, with the trellis design taken from one of the stamps, but it also includes an excerpt from Captain Wentworth’s letter, which I copied out by hand. My daughter thinks it is wonderfully romantic! She hung this piece of work above her writing desk, so it’s with her on her own writing journey, which makes me very happy. 

What was the last piece of art you sold?

A tree commission.

And finally… Because this is really important….

What’s the best type of cheese?  (haha)

Goat’s cheese – French, very fresh .

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