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Susan Wirth

Portrait of Australian artist Susan Wirth, by Ilona Nelson for This Wild Song
Portrait of Australian artist Susan Wirth, by Ilona Nelson for This Wild Song

About Susan

Susan Wirth was born in Sydney (Australia) in 1967, she now lives and works in Melbourne, Victoria. Susan completed a Bachelor of Fine Art from Victorian College of Art and has a Grad Dip of Art Therapy from Latrobe University. Susan works across the mediums and disciplines of sculpture, collage, photography, performance and video.

Susan’s artworks

Interview with Susan Wirth

How do you describe your work to others?
Sometimes difficult and depends on the context. I usually say I create sculptures, paintings, installations and performances.

Do you have a preferred medium?
Not really, I use whatever medium I feel like using at the time or whatever I think is the right medium/language to convey an idea or create a feel.

You are now moving in a different direction with your work – how have you found that transition? Has it been difficult to begin the new work?
I have always worked across disciplines as part of my working process but it’s exciting to delve deeper, have more time to explore different formats. It invigorates my practice. It’s an exciting time.

Do you tend to work in series or do you see your body of work as a continuation?
I see my practice as a long meandering line, one big experiment. Some works are in a serial format, others are one off projects. Some are collaborations, others are created by me but more and more I am using the skills of others to contribute to the work in some way ie video editors.

What attracts you to your subjects?
Some inner urge/need/compulsion.

What processes do you use to bring your ideas to life?
It’s a constant process of experimentation, expansion and reduction. Repetition is a continuous theme. Something may eventually work and I will go with that for a while- see where it leads me. Other works have a clear path to complete but there are always surprises and accidents, it’s whether they fit or not.

What do you use as reference material?
Sometimes the material I am using contains its own references. I think that any ‘thing’ contains references of some kind, its embedded in them. I like playing with these meanings, using them in some way.

Do you work intuitively or more consciously?
I work intuitively with an awareness that meaning may be deciphered through the combination of material/mediums/techniques used. I usually like the work to be open enough for a viewer to create their own meaning if any.

Do you aim to create the finished piece exactly as you envisioned or enjoy allowing it to develop organically?
Through the process of experimentation there is usually a bit of both, more and more I am using techniques that have a random quality in the making. I like doing automatic drawings, paintings and prints to exercise that freedom. I am hoping this translates into my sculptural and video work. Some pieces I have clear ideas about how it should look but the result is better if there is room for gaps for things to develop in the making.

Where do you create?
Sometimes in my studio, sometimes in the lounge room/ kitchen in front of the tv, sometimes at a location, sometimes in my sleep!

Do you have a studio ritual to start the session?
I tell my family that I am disappearing for a while.

What’s your favourite music to work to?
I don’t have a favourite – whatever I feel like, more often than not I don’t have music on, I might listen to radio – depends on what I am doing.

Do you enjoy coming up with titles?
Only when they come easily!

What’s your favourite part of creating?
When form and idea come together in a satisfactory way.

What advice would you give to your emerging self?
Keep on going.

How do you alleviate the down times?
I sleep, watch heaps of dvds and read. It’s all part of it.

What defining moments have you experienced within your practice?
That I have the freedom to define my own practice.

What is the most memorable exhibition or artwork you have seen and why?
Yayoi Kusama’s retrospective a few years ago, a Kandinsky painting I saw in Spain stopped me dead in my tracks. The sculptures of Angela de la Cruz I really love. The first time I saw Pipolotti Rists’s work. A recent show of Yirrikala drawings I saw in Sydney. Why – because they all moved me deeply.

If you could ask any artist any question, what would it be?
How did you do that?

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