If you want to meet one of the most creative and switched on woman in her Eighties, go and visit Ann Sutton. Together with curator Gill Hedley, who had recommended her oeuvre and curated her gallery exhibition, that is what I did and was immediately taken. Ann’s artistic energy, innovative spirit, wit and experience shine through in every conversation and every art work. A celebrated textile designer having pushed the boundaries of her profession for decades, Ann had the courage to start afresh. Ann’s “kinetic” drawings and installations burst with energy and movement. They are an artist’s late period flourishing; mature, calm and full of life
Ann Sutton’s work often starts with the material and its properties. She is painting with textiles, drawing with plastic threads and polypropylene cord or building installations from monofilament strips. Internationally recognised as a textile artist and designer – Sutton started as a weaver in the 1960s and 70s – she is always seeking to experiment within her self-imposed medium and challenge its contemporary outlook.
Although Sutton’s work has a strong element of craft, she doesn’t describe herself as a craftsperson, but as a maker. Sutton has a fascination with the grid structure, which is the starting point for nearly all of her most recent pieces. The structures and patterns according to which the threads are inter-woven reflect textile quality: colourful lines, which run parallel or are interlaced at right angles. At the same time, Sutton avoids the traditional ‘beautiful’ line in her work and is much more fascinated by more gestural, more intuitive and therefore more vital lines. She challenges the two-dimensional quality of drawing by lifting her lines off the surface. Bending, curving and kinking, her lines result in what she calls her spatial drawings. These three-dimensional drawings alter when you move past them and change your visual angle.
Sutton’s work can be seen in an overall context of works by textile artists such as Sheila Hicks, Nancy Crow and Annette Messanger. However, it is indisputable that she was one of the pioneers to work with plastic in the 1960s, a new material that had yet to be explored. To date her sustained interest in experimenting with new techniques and processes is clearly visible.
Ann Sutton’s work has been exhibited worldwide and featured in many public and private collections, including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. In 2005 Sutton was made a visiting professor at the University of the Arts, London and a Senior Fellow of the Royal College of Art, London.
Exhibitions at the gallery:
Ann Sutton, Counterpoint, 2014 (solo show)