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Meet the Artist
Dr Susan Poole SGFA Winner
- Written by Vanessa Champion Vanessa Champion
Dr Susan Poole, was the winner of the SGFA Open – Best in Show, which we sponsored. Her prize was presented by TV broadcaster, journalist and artist Andrew Marr. Susan gave us a terrific interview here, print making continues to fascinate, a skill and a progression of the graphic arts. Her winning image was a fabulous piece, here she explains to us what it means.
First of all congratulations on winning the Strathmore Artist Papers Best in Show award. Really interesting piece. Can you tell a little about it? What inspired you? Maybe a little on the process on how you made it?
Thank you once again for your very generous prize, which I am looking forward to making use of!
The drawing for the etching was made by dribbling sugar-lift (a treacle-like substance) from the end of a stick across my etching plate. I then covered the surface of the plate with stop-out varnish and when that was dry hot water allowed my to gently dissolve and rub away the sugar-lift, leaving the lines that the acid would bite into and became the marks that printed. I particularly like the quality of lines that this technique produces.
This etching developed from more unusual beginnings than most of my animal studies. As well as animals I sometimes make pictures of still life objects which have particular personal meanings for me; traces of my presence if you like. I am very deaf, the result of a condition which developed in my thirties, and which causes considerable communication problems at times. I began to make drawings of my hearing aids and as I did so I thought how much like prawns they looked, in their curved shape and pinkish colouring. So I started on some drawings of prawns, which became a metaphor, if you like, of my hearing loss. As I did so I was struck by the beauty of these tiny creatures, particularly their linear quality.
Print-making is a relatively new direction for me. I have recently begun both etching and wood engraving (a tiny two-block wood engraving of zebra was also on show in this exhibition). Most of my previous work has been drawings and watercolours. Drawings have been in both graphite and coloured pencils and I am a signature member of the UK Coloured pencil society. My watercolours have been shown at the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour and the Royal Academy Summer exhibition.
Recently produced double block wood engraving print of two zebras (4 inches by 5 inches) from sketches I also made in Tanzania.
You are a really accomplished illustrator of animals, the work you did in Botswana is amazing. Do you go over there a lot? Do you find yourself drawn to animals as subjects? Any reason in particular?
You are right that animals are my favourite subjects. They provide so much visual variety in terms of shape, colour, texture and patterning; they are like individual landscapes in their own right. I also happen to like animals. My husband and I currently own two horses a dog and a cat, and I ride my horse (Simon, a 16.1hh Gelderlander) almost daily, usually out across Dartmoor, where we live. As you noticed, I have also travelled a great deal to make first hand studies of animals. My particular favourites are the African countries and I have made sketchbook journeys to Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda. I have also been to places like China to see the pandas and Australia to draw Kangaroos, Koala bears and other indigenous animals unique to that continent. In addition I go to both Paignton and London zoos to make drawings, as well visiting farms and local agricultural shows here in Devon.
You are a fellow Doctor I see? Mine is in Greek and Latin, what is yours? Where did you do it? What did you specialise in?
My Doctorate is in Archaeology, from University College London [ah same college, Ed. thought I liked you!]
Specifically, the art and archaeology of the pre-historic Aegean. I came to it from my studies of ancient Greek, particularly the works of Homer, whose poems are set in the period I looked at. I also have an MA in Fine Art from Surrey Institute of Art and Design.
At the moment I am making a number of sketchbook studies of penguins. The strong tonal contrast they offer would I think translate well into wood engraving prints. I don't run any workshops or demos but a few years ago I wrote for the artist magazine (about painting animals in watercolour which was the outcome of visiting Tanzania). I am thinking of putting together something on the value of using sketchbooks in preparation for finished works.
These pages of penguin sketches are in preparation for a possible wood engraving. Double spread of A4 sketchbook, graphite pencils (B grades) and one water soluble graphite pencil 8B.
Where are you exhibiting next?
I exhibit regularly with the Society of Graphic Fine Art. I recently had drawings on show in a group exhibition at the Russell Cotes Art Gallery and Museum in Bournemouth, which ran until 11th January 2015. My next exhibition after that will be at the Bankside Gallery from 29th June to 5th July 2015, with the Society of Graphic Fine Art.
If you could rescue one thing from your studio what would it be and why?
If I had to rescue one thing from my studio it would be a little bag in which I keep some graphite pencils, a putty rubber, pencil sharpener and an A4 sketchbook. You can do so much with just a few pencils, on good quality paper, however small in size.
And a fun question, if you were a Strathmore Art Paper, which one would you be?
If I had to choose a Strathmore paper to be it would be the 500 series Gemini watercolour paper, because it sounds like the best of the best!
I have made many graphite pencil drawings and tried all sorts of surfaces. You may be interested to know that my attached ‘Two of a Kind’ was done on Strathmore Bristol Board (plate) which I found an extremely pleasing surface to work on. Definitely the nicest for detailed pencil work. [that's great to hear! Ed.]
If someone wanted to get in touch with you, which websites should they go to?
If people wanted to get in touch with me my email address is shown on my personal website which is: www.susanpoole.co.uk
More photos from the SGFA awards evening with Andrew Marr can be seen here: https://www.artistpapers.co.uk/articles/news/strathmore-artist-papers-award-for-the-best-work-on-show-sgfa-awards-night