Creativity Unblocked: Susannah Crook
It’s no secret that Weston has some of the most beautiful beaches and coastline in the country. Which is why we were incredibly excited to meet local artist Susannah Crook, who works with natural materials to create stunning paintings of Weston’s shoreline.
Hi Susannah! Please tell us a bit about yourself and your practise.
I studied art at college way back in the 80s and was an art teacher for 25 years, during which time my own work was most definitely on the back burner. Since stopping full time teaching in 2016 I have been living near Weston; it has been such an inspiration for my creative practice. I’m a painter inspired by the shoreline; the water, the sky, the light, the reflections on the shimmering sand and the rocks and pebbles along the coast. The big expansive spaces are so beneficial to our wellbeing and the small intimate textures and patterns are very grounding. The ambition is to portray that in my work.
How have you kept yourself inspired during the lockdowns, and have you found any challenges?
Lockdown has given me the time to develop my work in different ways and recently I have started to create my own paints from the earth and minerals that I collect near by. Painting the land with the land has been a revelation. There is something very grounding and cyclical about the process of gathering the earth, mulling it into paint and then working with it on thick hand made paper. I’m aiming to become as sustainable an artist as possible.
There is no denying that there have been many, many downsides to lockdown but I am thankful to have had my art to turn to. Working as I do with watercolour and ink in a slow and mindful way has been hugely beneficial to my mental well being. Prior to the pandemic I provided therapeutic art sessions in residential care homes and at Weston Artspace and I know how beneficial working in a mindful, playful way can be. Working with others is something I am very much looking forward to getting back to.
When you hit a creative block, how do you push through?
The key, for me, is to keep going! I try to do something, either drawing or painting, or simply being out observing the landscape everyday. Sometimes I can overthink what I’m doing which really slows me down. It does me good, when this happens, to get loose, free and wild with my paint. In other words get into the moment and don’t think about the end ‘product’. I’m always amazed with what then appears!
What’s the best piece of creative advice you’ve ever been given?
Practice, practice, practice. Your creative muscle is like any other and needs to be used regularly. And the more it is used, the more it can achieve in directions you never thought possible!
Do you have any tips or words of wisdom for people starting out in the industry?
I think time spent developing your craft/your technical skill is really important. The arts is a highly competitive industry so developing your own unique voice is time well spent. Having a strong body of work is like a springboard to success.
Why is Weston a great place to be a creative?
Even in the short time I have lived here I have sensed a change in Weston. The creative scene is bubbling away, growing stronger and stronger with many more initiatives and opportunities. The future feels positive and hopeful.
What do you want to see for Weston’s creative scene in the next 5 years?
I would love to see more art (in the broadest sense) around the town. There are a huge number of creatives in Weston but, at the moment, very limited places where work can be shared for all to see. As well as the food and drink events we already have it would be great to have community arts events for all our artists, crafters, music makers, designers, dancers, performers, poets and writers to celebrate and share what they do.
See more of Susannah’s work on her website, and also on her instagram @SusannahCrookArt.
Are you an artist in Weston?
That includes filmmaking, dance, theatre, music, all things creative. Because I’d love to hear from you, and how you’ve been keeping the creative juices flowing during lockdown. Just tell me a little bit about yourself, and send any links to your work if you have them. Reach me at Jasmine@cultureweston.org.uk
You can also share what creative endeavours you’ve been up to on social media, using the hashtag #CreativityUnblocked
You can read more from the Creativity Unblocked series here.