'Macaque, 2004' © Susie Hamilton
Acrylic on board. Courtesy of Paul Stolper / Bridgeman Images

Artist Spotlight: Susie Hamilton
January 18, 2019
In the latest instalment of our 'Artist Spotlight' series ACS artist Susie Hamilton discusses how literature exploring the theme of transformation inspires her figurative work, and takes us through how she approaches creating her uniquely layered large scale paintings.

Q. How would you define your work in three words?


Metamorphosis of figures.


Q. What medium do you mainly work with and why?


Acrylic paint because it dries fast and I can work over it in layers.


Q. Where do you find most inspiration for your work?


My inspiration comes from drawing figures from life (in the street and in shops and on beaches) also in drawing dramatic poses of figures in theatres or in ballets. And I am constantly inspired by literature, especially by poetry which is about transformation: Ovid, Marvell and Shakespeare.



Q. Take us through your working process.


I worked recently on large pieces of unstretched canvas for some paintings based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses. This process was for a ‘Bacchanalia’ painting.


One piece of canvas was laid on the floor and I painted onto it a thin, acrylic ground into which I drew figures. Since the ground was still slightly wet the drawing blurred out and the figures were already undergoing transformation.


Then when this was dry I stapled the canvas to the wall and painted further into the figures, adding layers of other things: branches and vegetation and mist, and creating a pattern of figures and landscape to become a dynamic whole.


I then laid the canvas down again and poured thin acrylic over some of it to create a layer which further transformed the figures etc. This process of layering and working over and into layers of paint was repeated until I was happy with it.


‘Beach 1, 2005’ © Susie Hamilton
Acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of Paul Stolper / Bridgeman Images



Q. Can you remember the first work of art that you created? What was it and why was it so memorable?


It was a little green oil painting based on Dylan Thomas’s line ‘the force that through the green fuse drives the flower’.


It is memorable because it was a very early example of my wanting to combine painting and poetry and because the theme of energy is still important in my technique and subject matter.


‘Riddled with Light, 1997’ © Susie Hamilton
Oil on Canvas. Courtesy of Paul Stolper / Bridgeman Images


Q. Why are intellectual property rights such as the Artist’s Resale Right important to you as an artist?


It is fair. It is all too common for artists to be exploited or not given credit for their works. It is great that ACS stands up for artists in this respect. I appreciate the way that artists and their concerns take priority with ACS and at no cost to the artist.


‘Flamboyant Jungle 4, 2008’ © Susie Hamilton
Acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of Paul Stolper / Bridgeman Images


Susie Hamilton's book 'On Margate Sands, Paintings and drawings based on T.S. Eliot's 'The Waste Land'', published by The Wind in the Trees and available to purchase now, takes its inspiration from her 2018 exhibition 'At the Violet Hour' at the Nayland Rock Hotel in Margate where T.S. Eliot wrote part of 'The Waste Land.'

Later this month, Hamilton will be participating in the Hospital Rooms initiative to provide unique artistic murals in mental health wards throughout the United Kingdom. She will be creating new work for the new Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit at the Devon Partnership Trust in Exeter.


For more information about Hamilton and her upcoming projects, visit the artist’s website here.