The experience of ‘being amongst it’ is not applicable to everyone, but for Susan, it is the essence!
This is the driver for an artwork’s development – the absorption into a natural environment, identifying with a location, and the translation of this to paper or canvas.
Observations over time, through camping out for days on end, will always reveal more of a place. It allows the capture of nuances, and as time progresses, the originally overlooked aspects of the environment, especially the disguised or camouflaged wildlife, is gradually discerned.
Sketching and watercolour painting on location, immersed within the landscape – ‘plein air’, captures a moment, and provides a reference for future studio work. Susan’s landscapes capture an ‘aura’ of reflection, light and texture, which all combine to fortify her impressionist style.
The subjects Susan paints is experienced by many every day, but Susan’s impressions are unique as she almost speaks to the landscape. She is drawn to a subject that resonates within her soul. Susan’s understanding of, and empathy for, the co-existence between wildlife and environment is ever-present.
When I look upon a Sheridan painting, I feel that she has captured the essence of a place. She shows us what she sees, but remains selective of what she chooses to share. Her landscapes achieve beauty in both simplicity and understatement.
I hope you enjoy this journey north through the eyes of a born observer, a naturalist, and a lover of Australian landscape.
Susan Sheridan has always painted and has been a professional artist for almost forty years.
After leaving school in Sydney she enrolled in a design course at East Sydney Technical College (The National Art School). While studying design she added several classes of painting with Peter Laverty to her timetable. She continued with these art classes at night after completing design and also attended drawing classes at The Julian Ashton Art School.
Influenced by and working in the city Susan's earlier works reflected the exciting abstract quality of the structure of the cityscape. One of her earliest solo exhibitions was a series on the construction of Joern Utzon's Opera House - a sellout show. In the early seventies she travelled to the highlands of New Guinea and this resulted in an exciting exhibition of the awesome "Sing Sings" and the exotic rugged highland landscape.
However, it is her evocative depictions of Australia that tell the story of her travels throughout this land. In 1986 one of her watercolours was chosen to hang at the Mall Galleries in London with the Federation of British Artists.
As a member of The Australian Watercolour Institute she was represented in AWI exhibitions in Canada in 1992 and in Hong Kong in 1996.
In 1998 two major works were selected to hang in a sponsored exhibition title "Out of Australia - Australian Contemporary Paintings" in Shanghai. In 1999 and 2001, her exhibitions in Hong Kong proved to be successful. It is not therefore surprising that her paintings grace the walls of many homes, hotels, resorts, boardrooms, offices and institutions throughout the world.
Throughout a formidable career spanning four decades, Susan Sheridan has been peripatetic in her pursuit of landscape subjects. For some years, a recurrent motif in her oeuvre has been the Australian hinterland, most recently her outback excursions in the grasslands and savannahs of the Gulf country from Northern Queensland to Cape York.
This exhibition, Lagoon Series, is the culmination of Sheridan’s experiences there, demonstrating the diapason of the artist’s painterly responses to nature in its myriad moods and moments, as well as her inventiveness as a picture-maker.
Sheridan brings a gimlet eye to her lyrical impressions of the landscape, capturing the fleeting effects of light and the rhythmic anatomy of the terrain, with a particular focus on the abundant variety of birdlife and the arabesque trajectory of their balletic movements.
Invariably, these evocative, atmospheric works emerge from the artist’s plein air practice of graphically recording her impressions in situ, the alla prima sketches serving as a mnemonic in the further development of images in her studio. As is the case with much landscape-inspired painting, these images are meditations on time. Yet, equally, they are an expression of the visual poetics of space and form. Some reveal themselves directly in the instant of viewing while others impart their multi-layered interpretative properties only gradually. Whether the tempo is allegro or andante, the musicality of Sheridan’s compositions engage the viewer and produce an enduring impact.
For more than 25 years, I have followed the evolution of Susan Sheridan’s work, most notably in my capacity as President of the Australian Watercolour Institute, of which she has distinguished herself as one of the most technically proficient, innovative and respected members since 1991. As a plein air landscape painter, I especially admire the reductive quality of Sheridan’s iconography, employing calligraphic lines and abstracted forms to convey a consummate picture of her experience of the Australian landscape.
Among Sheridan’s art awards are the 1984 Mosman Art Prize and the Margaret Fesq Memorial Art Prize. Moreover, she has been a finalist in the Wynne Prize at the Art Gallery Of New South Wales on seven occasions.
She is represented in public, corporate and private collections in Australia and overseas, including Manly Art Gallery, the University of New South Wales, the University of Newcastle, the Federal Airports Commission, and the Qantas collection. Her commissions include Hayman Island Resort, the Park Lane and Hilton Hotels, Sydney and the Ramada Hotel, Parramatta.David van Nunen, President
If possible, each year we like to hitch up our camper trailer to ‘go bush’ and explore the wild areas of Australia.
Last year our destination was the Gulf country of northern Queensland and then Cape York. Armed with sketch books and camera we set off. It takes a while to absorb new country with different trees, rocks and vegetation and soil colour always changing, and of course the wonderful bird life. I enjoy being quietly in the bush and sometimes some landscape really excites and I need to record it in my sketch book.
A stay at Leichhardt Lagoon had this effect! The flooded trees reflecting in the water, the many staccato lines and dots of water lilies and stick vegetation and of course the many birds from magpie geese with their chicks, egrets, brolgas, jacanas to name a few. Sunset was spectacular, but I really enjoyed the time just after this when this entire vista became silhouetted, wonderful for painting whether it be using canvas or paper.
Travelling on through dry country with termite mounds reflecting the local soil type we came across many small and larger lagoons with the lilac and white lilies, often like a surprise oasis, an amazing contrast to the surrounding land.
These paintings on show are the start of this journey using light, shapes and lines that travel across the canvas recording my feeling for many corners of these lagoons, some more intimate than others.