Suzanne Harulow is a freelance artist who completed a degree in Embroidered Textiles at Manchester Metropolitan University.
She has since established her own business www.skyblueseas.co.uk and also sells her work on Etsy and from www.notonthehighstreet.com
Through her work in schools in April 2007 she was one of four North West artists invited on an International artists exchange to America, to work with artists and educators in the Early Years. She spent a week there running workshops on storytelling and textiles with her exchange artist at the Children’s Museum in Pittsburg. They also worked in early years settings in rural Pennsylvania, and the week culminated in an Early Years conference.
She has also recently discovered that her great, great grandfather was a marine painter and has been researching her family tree and discovered that he has paintings in many galleries all over the UK.
Suzanne agreed to take part in an interview with me so she can share her work, techniques, inspiration and life as an artist.
Tell us about your work – your practice, materials & methods.
My degree was in Embroidered Textiles and I did this at Manchester Met, I graduated in 1990.
I also have a PGCE and lectured in Embroidered textiles at Blackburn College for a number of years.
“Unstitched” isn’t exactly a piece of finished work.
My process of working has recently taken on a new dimension. I have a wall in my studio which is covered in cork tiles. I pin sketches, samples, found objects, words etc onto my wall, and eventually things emerge… See: http://www.skyblueseaskybluesea.com/2010/04/unwritten.html for info about unstitched.
My current work seems to revolve around three distinct themes “Ocean”, “Ancestral” and “Celestial”.
“Ancestral” – is most definitely in response to old images of my family, memorabilia, things with age and patina from a time gone by. Some years ago I was given an old poetry book which belonged to my Nanna, and she had written by certain poems. Her handwriting fascinated me and I copied the page and then stitched over her handwriting.
We also had a beautiful piano stool which collapsed on New Years Eve, and I used one of the drawers to suspend one of my embroidered pieces in, “Truth”
I like the idea of textiles being presented in an unusual way. The photograph, which is transferred onto fabric, is of my mum, she also studied to be an artist.
For more images of ‘Ancestral’ see http://www.skyblueseaskybluesea.com/2010/06/ancestral.html
“Ocean” – I love being by the sea and have a collection of washed up fragments of sea-worn pottery. I love their mystery and faded colours and they seem to sit well with this current collection of work. http://www.skyblueseaskybluesea.com/2010/06/ocean.html
“Celestial” ( heavenly, of sky). I am inspired by the connotations of Heaven, the clouds, stars and celestial beings. http://www.skyblueseaskybluesea.com/2010/06/started-celestial.html
Who or What inspires you?
I am inspired by numerous different artists, but often it is words, a line from a song or poem which will spark an idea. I love the drawings of Klimt and Rodin, their simplicity and also the movement in some of their work.
Can you tell us what your typical working day is like? Does your work involve being creative or making art?
I am a mum of three (17,14 and 7), and have always tried to fit work around my children. I have been really lucky because I have had a lot of support from my family.
I sell my more commercial work online through www.notonthehighstreet.com/skybluesea and also have also set up an Etsy store although it seems a harder market to get noticed in because it’s so big, but I keep plugging away!
I have been working in partnership with Artists in Schools, Bolton since 1997, and run workshops for children from nursery upwards and also staff training in art/textiles. I am also an artist for Curious Minds and Creative Partnerships, and run residencies in schools for them.
My working week is generally a combination of working on projects in schools, making orders and then working on my personal work. I go to a life drawing class one morning a week and have recently joined Neoartists, and have recently exhibited in their exhibition “Nostalgia”.
I love the fact that my working week can change from week to week.
Can we see a couple of pictures of what your studio space is like?
I’d like to thank Suzanne for sharing her beautiful work and for taking the time to tell us all about her experience, inspiration and techniques. I’m sure she would love to hear any comments you have and if you have enjoyed her work, you can follow her blog here: www.skyblueseaskybluesea.com or see some of her pieces via flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/51380701@N07/