Statement

My practice spans the disciplines of sculpture, performance, installation, photography and drawing.  During my student career at Central Saint Martins, my studio practice has centred on the performative potential of costume in evoking the absence or presence of the body and in constructing and articulating identity, gender, sexuality and the interplay of power in human relations.

I have been drawn to iconic costume, making works which offer social commentary and psychological observation and which reflect an interest in theories concerning the ways in which early influences within the family play themselves out in later life.

A major area of focus in both my studio and research practices centres on ideas arising out of the notion of the liminal, or the space in between, and many of the objects I make are manifestations of an attempt to embody the tension of opposites, or states of duality: for example, delicacy and brutality, attraction and repulsion, sacred and profane.  Another expression of this interest in borderlands is that my production work inhabits the space where fine art and craft co-exist.  I like the idea of all not being what it first seems and having to look closer to see the truth of a thing, challenging and questioning the viewer through subversive use of materials.

My practice is predominantly studio-based and process-led, although there is a strong emphasis on performance and the performative in my work.  I periodically use performance as a device to punctuate the production of work, enabling me better to see issues I may be acting out in my own studio practice.  I am also engaged in an ongoing enquiry into the performative aspects of production and in the way art-making provides a crucible for artist-making: what might be termed a process of mutual becoming.

Recent concerns have been with the implications of allowing a practice to unravel, and with the part un-making has to play in the development of both the work and the person of the artist.  In this regard, my interests have shifted from refinement of technique and development of existing skills to cathartic play with new materials and techniques, and to experimentation with the figurative, allowing for an opening up into new areas of possibility for my studio work.


Background

I was born in London where I currently live, study and work.  Having first studied art in the 1970s, I went on to develop a textiles-based practice alongside a full-time corporate career which focused on IT project management, change management and people development.  In 2005 I made the move into full-time art practice, in support of which I returned to part-time higher education.  I remain passionate about people development and about the role of the arts in the opening and unfolding of the whole person.  As a consequence, my practice reflects a deep interest in a range of psychological perspectives, including psychodynamic theory, analytical and developmental psychology and the transpersonal.

I consider myself extraordinarily fortunate to have been able to experience a university education.  I believe firmly that lives are transformed and enriched by engagement with the arts and with higher education.  Consequently, I cannot support the recent government funding cuts in the arts and arts education and I hold that it is our collective responsibility to challenge this state of affairs in whatever way we can.


Susan Healey
June 2011