Sue Clark

Reporting on an exhibition of paintings by Sue Clark

Sue Clark has developed her abstract arts practice over thirty years while living in Canada where she has exhibited extensively. She moved back last year and is presenting her first New Zealand exhibition at the Hastings Community Art Centre.

She and her husband Brian have been setting up their new home and studio in Havelock North while getting to know people and sussing out the New Zealand way of life after so long away. Life is very different from when she left New Zealand in 1990 and there is so much to catch up on, especially the way the New Zealand arts community functions.

She is now feeling well enough settled to be picking up the paintbrush after a hiatus of nearly a year.  

As a means of becoming known in Hawke’s Bay, Sue Clark is presenting her first New Zealand exhibition at the Hastings Community Art Centre in Russell Street Hastings, running from 25 May until June 5. 

Sue works mainly in acrylic on wood panels or on canvas using fresh colours and a lightly energetic touch in mark-making that is dramatic and appealing. She describes herself as a layerist – an artist working with many layers of paint, a technique of covering over and scraping back into the layers, in a form of excavation that creates a sense of depth, history and mystery. Recent work shows glints of gold and silver leaf, as a metaphor for the unexplored potential we all have.

Her approach is to work intuitively using lines, shapes and colours that emerge from ‘somewhere deep’. 

“It seems wondrous that there is an endless supply of imagery to be discovered and mined, and it’s not just line and shape. So much of what I create is bound up with my emotional response to colour.  

“I find non-objective or abstract painting the most difficult, it is an exciting and compelling form of artmaking by which I am making the unknown visible,” she says. “I want my work to speak of harmony, joy, and a connection to something deeper. Most people want this in their lives and although the imagery is personal to me, I know that it resonates with others.”

Her abstract style has evolved through constant hours in the studio and the challenges that come from exhibiting regularly. She moved from an early realist style, through tuition and developmental stages towards this intuitive abstract-painting style, helped enormously by teaching others. This is a common experience for artists who teach – a wonderful feedback loop that often triggers fresh creativity in the teacher.

Her greatest joy is to go into the studio and create.  “It is what I have always wanted to do. Art is really a form of meditation; a time of single-minded focus where all else drops away.”

Her show – entitled Is it Alchemy – Explorations in Colour – is a representative sample of work from when she was living in Canada and a few recent paintings done in New Zealand.

Is it Alchemy – Explorations in Colour
Hastings Community Art Centre, Russell Street, Hastings
25 May to 5 June
Susanne Clark Art: www.susanneclark.com

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