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Finding Myself In Colour

by Susi Bellamy

My interest in cropping and editing visuals was cultivated through working as a fashion editor, where I teamed up with photographers to create a spread of fashion images for the magazine. I took up painting when I moved to the United States with young children and was looking for a hobby to fill the creative gap that leaving my job as a stylist left behind.  I soon learned that all life experiences inform the next ones and I think my way of looking at the world helped me with creating compositions in my paintings.  

Inspired by landscapes and still lifes, I worked for many years painting the flowers and vistas around me. I was inspired by the Impressionists and Fauvists in particular and their bold use of colour. When I returned to the UK I enrolled on a BA in Fine art and this is when I started my journey to take my practice to the next level and to start showing my art. My paintings became larger, more confident and looser but I was still working with subject matters that were familiar.  I also began to use a plaster’s trowel to paint, scraping the paint across the surface of the canvas so the mark-making echoed strata and landscape.

A move to Florence in Italy was the turning point in my artistic journey as I absorbed not only the beautiful Tuscan landscapes around me but also learnt how to marble papers and play with gilding. Inspired by the street corner shrines, I also began to make icon collages with wrapping paper and bakery foil, reimagining the Madonna and child imagery through templating the components of the original art into decorative panels. The work became more abstract and the colours more informed.

I now describe myself as a mixed media artist and I switch from acrylic to oil to collage and back again and sometimes mix them together. After returning from Florence I then enrolled on a MA in Fine Art and this is when I began to think outside of the box. Drawing on my background as a fashion editor and inspired by fabulous Italian fashion and aesthetics, I created modern day icons and colourful geometric sculptures. The figurative element then gently disappeared and the work became all about colour as I took my sculptural pieces back into the studio, revisiting my past, and photographing them at various angles to create a collection that hovered somewhere between 2D and 3D.

When I took up my first studio in Newcastle in 2014, I began to revisit my passion of painting larger abstract pieces on board and then had these artworks cut up randomly into smaller squares so the composition became a chance element of the work. On some of the boards I painted on top, adding layers of paint to create depth and texture and others I simply left. One day I was studying these small abstract squares and thought they could work as a cushion design. The rest is history and the idea of ‘art for the sofa’ was born. In 2015 I made my first cushion called Osmosi Giallo and the rest of the collection followed from there.  Each design has a heritage of my travels and experiences but the thread that runs strongly through the collection continues to be my passion – that of colour!