Born on the Isle of Portland, Dorset, Susan Ashworth grew up in a landscape of stone quarries, cliffs and wide views across field and scrub to open sea. She studied Fine Art in Falmouth, Cornwall, and has continued to live and work on the South Coast of England.
The pared-back beauty of her maritime birthplace is reflected in her work. Drawing on an idiom of tabletop images by artists such as Diebenkorn, Nicholson and Letinsky,
some of these still-lifes might almost be landscapes: a coffee pot, cup and milk picked out by oblique light in expanses of empty space; hydrangeas looming larger than life from the shadows – familiar items estranged then seen afresh.
The handling of the paint revels in the play between flat surface and the illusion of depth and solidity. All kinds of process - simultaneous work on different paintings, widely varied consistencies and applications of paint, rotation of the surface being worked, layering, sanding and scraping - allow accident its shaping role. ‘Let the paint do the work!’
The resulting pictures show things caught at the very moment of appearance, objects blooming on a quiet shimmer of paint. They are subtly elegiac in their suggestion of what is missing - a human presence that has just passed out of view. At the same time there is no denying the joy in this work, and a certain wild freedom. A sober depiction of ordered domestic minutiae will slide into swathes and splatters of untied colour, yet the balance holds. It is the freedom of the instant before the brain categorises what is exposed to the eye. Without fuss or fanfare, these paintings renew for us the surprise of seeing.
Susan Ashworth's work has been exhibited in galleries throughout the UK and Europe.