Did you see this weekend’s Courier Weekend Magazine? 😉
I was asked if I would like do an interview with Helen Brown for The Courier’s Weekend Magazine… I said yes. I’ve never done anything like this before, so was pretty nervous but once we got chatting it was fine!
Here is what Helen wrote:
“Art and life often interlink much more closely than we might think and for Suzanne Scott, the two are inseparable. Always keen on drawing and making things since she was a little girl growing up in the country outside Blairgowrie, it took time for artistic creativity to become her career as well as her passion. But, she reckons, it was almost inevitable that they would.
“My mum and dad were creative people – Mum is into ceramics and Dad was always building things and gardening – and being in the countryside, I started to spot things early like plants, little toadstools, ferns unfurling shapes and twirls and swirls in nature. A lot of my art still comes from that kind of detail, that starts observational and becomes imaginative.
“I also found film – the work of people like Brian Froud on The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth – very inspiring and was brought up on the illustrations of Arthur Rackham, beautiful and ethereal yet with a darker side. I love Hans Christian Andersen, Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake.”
In her final year at school she credits “a fantastic art teacher” with encouraging her to try new things but although she wanted to go to art school, her parents, though supportive, were keen for her to look at a more academic route. “And I’m so glad they did!” she admits. A degree in psychology was followed by a masters in social work and for eight years, Suzanne worked with vulnerable children and teenagers in Angus – and found that art was a natural way to get through to them, to encourage creativity and get them out into the world. “I nearly went to study art therapy, to take that further,” she added, “but when my work team was disbanded and I had to decide whether to join a new team, dealing with a different age group, I decided the time was right to get back to my own art and to set up for myself. I also thought it might be less stressful – but being self employed has stresses of its own!”
Her first craft fair was in April 2010 – until then, she had never shown her work in public before. In the modern world, social media like Facebook and Instagram put artists all over the world in touch with each other and with their audience and Suzanne finds that a great source both of support and feedback.
The wide range of her work wasn’t planned – it grew naturally out of her own interests and inspirations and she now works under the title Whimsical Lush, whimsical denoting “playfully quaint or fanciful, esp. in an appealing and amusing way. Bizarre. Impulsive” and lush “extremely pleasing to the senses. Luxuriant. Rich. Exuberant.”
“I don’t hunt down trends – if I’m in the mood for drawing houses, I’ll draw houses. If it’s trees, I’ll draw trees!” In fact, a Suzanne Scott tree has even found its way onto a book cover for – aptly – author Craig Gilbert’s novel, The Black Tree.
Her first images – and first official logo – were of stylised rabbits, a subject she still creates today either in drawings or in knitted figures. “They and Boris the Bat were my first two characters and very popular.” Other trademark images include toadstools, houses and castles, again featuring her now recognisable curves and twists in monochrome or colour
Currently, as well as her own handmade ranges – an Edinburgh company creates mugs and notebooks featuring her designs – she is currently working on a couple of large scale commissions.
As well as the inspiration of nature and landscape, Suzanne has also created a series of images of what she calls her WhimBots – Whimsical Robots to you and me! – quirky creatures with a story to tell that have found their way onto prints and mugs and have also inspired many other people to get involved in creating their own. “It was a grey old day and I was feeling a bit fed up when I created them; I just started drawing with a lovely new set of coloured pencils I’d been given and these little figures came along and cheered me up.
“Since then, I’ve instituted a drawing project, The Great WhimBot Off , to encourage people from all over the world to draw their own. I’ve gathered them on-line and also into a physical exhibition last year that took place at the Diaosu studio in the Hilltown featuring 70 artists like Anita Inverarity and Adam Oehlers. We re booted it this year and every Wednesday, there’s Whimbot sharing on-line! #whimbotwed They have their own blog and album on the WhimSicAL LusH Facebook page which is great fun!” Suzanne also has a children’s book in mind about their adventures and sees this as a definite way forward in her work. “I have about 20 books in my head at the moment! Everything I do has a bit of story and I’m very interested in the verbal as well as the visual with storybooks and art books.
“I’m not a people pleaser but although I never set out to have a style, it seems that I have one and that people are beginning to recognise it, even with all the different veins of what I do.”
Suzanne shows in many markets across Scotland, including Aberdeen’s Ministry of Craft and Falkland craft market in Fife. She has had a few pop up shops at the Burgh Coffee House in Dundee, and you can also find her work in Dundee locations like Perth Road’s Art Bar, Cerberus rock pub and the Windsor Gallery. She also has work in various shops and galleries throughout Scotland.
Free art drops – makers, either known or anonymous, leaving examples of their work in the streets of towns and cities – also appeal strongly to her sense that art belongs everywhere. If you’ve seen any tiny, finely detailed, very decorative paper houses about the place recently, particularly in Dundee and Aberdeen, chances are that Suzanne put them there. One of her little 3-D creations even got as far as the resort of Chamonix and she is now making paper house kits so that people can buy them and make up their own.
“It’s exciting – things like yarn bombing, people adding little scarves and accessories to the penguins outside the city churches in Dundee and sticker bombing. there is even an artist called Dymagate who put padlocks all over Aberdeen and sometimes Dundee too! It makes people engage with art in a different way. It encourages them to pay attention to the little details in life and really look at their surroundings
Teaming up and collaborating with other artists and makers is something she very much enjoys. Suzanne and her mother, Anne Hamilton, showed work together at the recent Perthshire Open Studios event and she has exhibitions coming up before the end of the year at Freedom Hairdressing in Dundee and at Tayport’s Harbour Cafe.”
I mentioned quite a lot of people in there too… Diaosu Limited, Craig Gilbert’s Books,Falkland Craft Market, Aberdeen Ministry of Crafts, Cerberus Bar, The Art Bar,Freedom Hair Experience, Harbour Cafe Tayport, The Burgh Coffeehouse,Perthshire Open Studios, Tigh-Fhada and Dymagate too! The support from everyone has been incredible over the last few years and I’ve made some really great friends through it all too. My tiny way of thanking them for being brilliant!