Suzi Poland is August 18 Red’s Art Cart feature artist (that seemed like a mouthful)! The theme for August was Urban Sketching and with Mrs Red showing a lack of skills in this department it was time to bring someone else on board as the feature artist. After a quick hashtag search on Instagram I came across Suzi and her gorgeous work, both urban and other art styles. Her urban sketching is inspiring, and I had my fingers crossed she would agree to my last-minute request, which she did, and I am so happy to have met this talented Aussie artist, who helped me out of the hole I had dug for myself. I adore urban sketches and think anyone who can sit and draw what is in front of them are amazing. It’s not my strength but hey, we can’t be good at everything, so I was happy to ask for help. I hope you enjoy reading about Suzi as much as I have had interacting with her over the past month.
Tell us briefly about what part of Australia you live in?
I live on the northern beaches of Sydney, Australia, just over an hour’s drive from the city.
What style of art do you do?
Depending on my mood, location, the subject, or materials at hand, my work falls into different styles. Some are restrained, monochromatic, others colourful and playful. Some are journalistic reportage, others intuitive or imagined. Currently, I am working on combining everything I do, so if I had to define what I’m aiming for, I’d say whimsical minimalism, or simply, what makes us happy.
What influences your art style?
Sometimes when I create, I am designing/making for others, sometimes I am simply pleasing myself, capturing the essence or telling a tale. Working alone for five years, I developed a practice based on where I live, by the sea, the bush and the bay. Nature, the local seaside culture and cycles of the seasons and the moon are all influences on my work.
I am also influenced by my childhood, spent on the English coast and countryside, and my background in landscape architecture, tourism and design.
What is your history with art (any courses, self-taught, professional or hobby artist)?
As a child I sketched and drew, but instead of art school, I chose to Landscape Architecture and learnt how to draw to communicate concepts and imaginings so they could be constructed as playgrounds, streetscapes, parks and gardens. I also learnt how to think in space and time. This, and my love of adventure, led to a post graduate degree in Tourism Management. Whilst it may seem a slight detour on the path to art, it taught me much about what we desire and allowed me to explore themes of attraction, happiness and story in my work.
After my Tourism degree and when my girls were still in primary school, I started a business selling tropical flowers at local markets in Sydney. It came after a trip to Nth Queensland where my husband and I have a close affinity to the reef and the rainforests. I learnt lots through this phase about creating in conversation with the marketplace, starting with flowers and ending up doing gigs for weddings and at the Sydney Opera House! Most of all I learnt, that in everything we do there is always a second meaning, so I wasn’t selling flowers, but rather messages of love.
Later, I did a series of creative courses, online and in-person in a variety of mediums both 2D and 3D and just last year I completed a Diploma of Ceramics.
Have you ever exhibited or entered art awards?
I will be exhibiting my drawings at the #100DayProject Global Meet Up in Sydney which I am hosting. My ceramics have been selected to Little Things twice and the Newport Art Trail and my printmaking was exhibited at Manly Gallery. I also have a sketchbook in the Brooklyn Library which I did as part of The Sketchbook Project.
Do you have any advice to anyone else who loves to dabble or is just beginning their art journey?
Don’t listen to the mob or succumb to the pressure of the mainstream art world as a way to pursue your creativity … keep searching, keep trying all sorts of things, set up little projects of your own to explore aspects of your creativity. Sure, go to art school, learn techniques, but throughout all of it, don’t search for fame as a measure of success, instead keep searching for what makes you come alive. If that is simply learning, beginning, trying, that’s enough, keep exploring. If through persistence you don’t give up and you get good at something, that may please you, keep going as you will get even better. Re-visiting old ways can be exciting, so too can teaching others, selling stuff or entering competitions. Please, whatever you do, don’t set such a rigid route that you become stuck and art becomes a chore, but if it does, start a side-project, you never know what might spring up!
Away from the desk/easel, what are your other interests?
Haha! When is an artist ever “off the job” especially when you are a sketcher like me! Even on holidays, as well as my clothes etc, there’s always a small bag of art supplies that come with me. Just ask my family! I love walking the many bush and coastal paths around where I live and my husband knows almost every plant we see. He and I love visiting rainforests and gardens and places of natural or cultural beauty as much as we love visiting a pub! He loves to surf whilst I prefer to swim in summer, go to yoga or do WuTao, which is like dancing Tai Chi. I love hanging out with my family, watching movies or catching up with friends, but yes, art and creativity form a big part of who I am.
If you could meet any particular artist, living or not, who would it be?
I think what I love most is the ability we have to meet kindred spirits online, so they are the one’s I’d love to meet. If it was someone from the past, it would be my ancestor who collected wildflowers in Western Australia, or other female artists or anyone who told stories or found joy in their life by simply making art from what’s around them.
Do you have a studio space? Describe it (as in organized, chaos, minimal, can’t move etc).
This question always amuses me. I did have a studio in the village for several years where I could create and people could visit, but I am lucky enough to live on the edge of a big city and now I am doing more things that need equipment, it’s been great to be able to attend Open Studios and join other creatives in specifically designed spaces for printmaking, woodworking or ceramics. I also work from various parts of my home painting, drawing, sewing, writing or creating online and when the weather is good I go out filming or sketching or if I need solitude, I can retreat indoors to one of many local cafes. I admit, I do love the variety!
Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years from now?
Ten years from now, I’d like to be living lightly, somewhere peaceful, surrounded by nature, the sea and the city, close to my family and connected to creative people. Having a quiet cuppa or glass of something while laughing at how silly we can be. I’d love to be a prizewinning artist, but more importantly, I’d like to be creating beauty, contributing where I can and sharing the joy in the world that I see. I do love connecting and gathering, so maybe a beautiful studio where I could offer workshops and retreats would be fun, so too would traveling with a sketchbook meeting all sorts of people!