Though a true Londoner, Su was introduced to me by NY artist Sharon Louden, resulting in a joint show at the gallery in 2008 entitled “Paper Trail”. Su has since become a central position in the program, despite and I assume also because many of her projects are so courageous that they are more suited for institutional exhibitions. What I admire most about Su’s work and her approach is her integrity. Su tackles very diverse and controversial contemporary topics such as gender issues, wounds of the colonial past, immigration and civil liberties, yet manages to remain sincere and balanced, even fair. Su’s choice of medium and process is usually complex and carefully considered, often historically charged; the message is always calm and powerful.
Susan Stockwell takes a particular position in the program of the gallery as well as in the broader field of contemporary art. Her multidisciplinary works are highly researched and subtly political, exploring different histories and engaging with socio-political questions. Recurring themes and motives are identity, geo-politics, migration, power and social condition as well as materials and their inherent content and histories.
The materiality of her sculptural installations, drawings and collages as well as their aesthetic appearance is a reflection of this approach. Stockwell is not interested in coercing her works into particular forms but allows them to unfold in their own disguise and appropriate to their inner logic. This leads to a rich and comprehensive oeuvre – from dresses made out of bank notes, small boat objects, old computer parts in the shape of continents, installations of sails and stitched handkerchiefs.
Found or previously used objects and materials such as maps, money and embroideries are important for Stockwell’s artistic practice. Rarely fictional and constructed, her works reflect true events and are often evidence of their political and cultural colonisation. By transforming and reconfiguring these supercharged materials and objects, Stockwell indicates a possible re-writing of history. This is amongst others evident in a body of work made from old silk bobbins and thread. Stockwell subtly interrogates the value of these items, their travels from various places and their historical significance, tracing them back to the colonial trade. In processing them into sculptural installations she merges the cruelty of a historical event with the beauty of an abstracted piece of art.
Susan Stockwell exhibits in galleries and museums all over the world including TATE Modern and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, The Katonah Museum of Art in America and The National Museum of China in Beijing. She has been awarded scholarships, and commissions such as a Visiting Arts Taiwan-England Artists Fellowship and large commissions for the University of Bedfordshire, Black Rock Investments and most recently the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford upon Avon.
Exhibitions at the gallery:
Should I Stay or Should I Go, 2019 (group show with James S. Brooks, David Connearn, Eric Cruickshank, Henrik Eiben, Frank Gerritz, Michael Iwanowski, Michael Landy, Stefana McClure, Mike Meiré, Danica Phelps, Varvara Shavrova, Susan Stockwell, Johannes Von Stumm)
The Sea is the Limit, 2016 (group show with Varvara Shavrova, Nidahl Chamekh, Thomas Kilpper and Massimo Ricciardo)
Sweet Plums, 2015 (solo show)
Silver Thread of Empire, 2013 (two-person show with Izzy McEvoy)
All stitched up, 2012 (group show curated by Susan Stockwell)
Here and again, 2010 (groups show with Sarah Bridgland, Katherine Murphy and Kate Terry)
Paper Trail, 2008 (group show with Sharon Louden)