Susan Ashworth is a master of light.
Susan Ashworth is a master of light. Her oil paintings deftly capture its play across every surface, be it skittering across a polished heirloom jug, tracing the shoulder of a milk bottle, or absorbed by matt Portland stone.
And then there are the shadows. Raking the table, layered by leaves, or half-filtered through amber glass, they describe her subject’s opacity and how heavily they rest on her table-top landscapes. Often sparsely populated, with loosely explored edges and just the ghost of a patterned tablecloth, her still lifes cast everyday objects as their central focus.
In her painting, Susan says, she is seeking to “catch things at the moment of appearance” and to “create an emotional pull to the fleeting illumination of lone objects against shadow”. She does both admirably, exploring her compositions first with digital photography, sketch and collage, before working in oil on board; a medium she loves, for how it “pours, stains, glows, solidifies and dries. I love its history, its vigour and its tricks.”
Born on the Isle of Portland, Dorset, she now lives and paints in the Sussex harbour town of Newhaven. “I have always made my home in ‘well-used’ coastal places of industry,” she explains. “I like the edges of things; the changing light; the space of the coast and the sea. And one way or another all this has had its effect on my work.”
In recent paintings, her imagery and paint application has become looser with more of an abstract emphasis than previous collections. For the upcoming show at Atelier Beside the Sea, Susan has worked on a larger scale, making some of the biggest paintings she has worked on since she was at art school. Her paintings have been exhibited in galleries across the UK, in Europe and the United States, and are included in collections across the world.
The Nature of Things, a joint exhibition with ceramicist and multi-media artist Elaine Bolt, is open daily at Atelier Beside the Sea from October 20th until the 27th of November.