Dealing with the stereotypical tourist’s view of national identity, Susan glues and grouts Kitsch, English teatime and popular culture together forming a truly cracked but complete iconic identity.  Susan’s works express a sympathetic and fond deconstruction of British clichés. The viewing experience is one of discovery and recognition, as Susan describes, “It is like inspecting someone’s mantelpiece or going through their drawers”.

Interview with Susan Elliott

Weds 22nd July 2009  

Ceramics may be traditionally associated with craft. However, with other contemporary ceramic artists such as Grayson Perry playing with expectations of the medium, do you feel that ceramics are becoming increasingly popular in the fine art domain?  

Yes definitely. I especially like Grayson Perry’s work as he references very British imagery and themes. 

What originally inspired you to work with ceramics?

It was my love of kitsch and tat from charity shops as well as tourist mementos. It became a sort of archiving of, and placing within a context to bring out the quirky beauty rather than the naff qualities associated with these things.
Would it be true to say that your work acts as a deconstruction of British clichés?  

Yes, I try to deconstruct as well as using the clichés with sympathy and fondness. I express the things I like in a positive way and poke fun at more annoying aspects. However, like stereotypes there is always a smidgen of truth within a cliché.  

What reaction do you aspire to prompt from the viewer?  

I am happy when they get the irony and jokes. I have observed that people tend to spend a long time looking at the pieces as there is a lot for them to discover. The tactile quality draws people to explore and touch the works. The familiar objects are recognised, and a connection has already been established; it is like inspecting someone’s mantle piece or going through their drawers. 

How do you source all of your imagery and materials?  

I have a huge collection of mugs, plates and china built up over the years since childhood. I live by the sea and antique shops, tourist and charity shops surround me. I tend to find something and then it sparks off an idea. I like the final work to connect with the original source. The material inspires the images, which often reflect national identity.

Which artists do you take inspiration from?  

Peter Blake influences my work, I am also inspired by Grayson Perry and his British take; he uses the Queen and the establishment within his work and sort of turns them into soap opera which I love. I admire the work of Tracey Emin, Yinka Shonibare, Paul Smith and Vivienne Westwood. I like modern, English classics with a twist especially when they are rooted in British culture and history, good or bad.

What are your plans for your work in the future or future projects?  

I intend to make larger, possibly three-d imensional pieces. The challenge with these works will be the weight. I will need to allow more time for my practice and reorganise my schedule.

Interview by Caroline Willatt

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Giclee with silkscreen varnishes
and silver leaf, edition of 50
Signed by the artist
67 x 91cm