Member Spotlight: Susan Hotchkis
March 25, 2020
Our second member spotlight of March is Susan Hotchkis, a Scotland-based artist, whose work has incredibly rich surface texture and vibrant color palettes!
I was born and raised in Hull (East Yorkshire, England) but spent most of my adult life in Manchester. My first sewing machine was given to me when I was seven and haven’t stopped sewing since. I have a BA (hons) in Embroidery, a MA in Textiles, and a PGCE from the Manchester Metropolitan University. In Manchester, I taught Textiles on a foundation course and also led an Access to Art course for adults. A move to Guernsey in 2007 due to my husband’s job enabled me to give up teaching and focus on my own practice. We lived there for ten years, then France for two years, and a year ago we moved to the beautiful Scottish Highlands where we hope to stay. I’m now very fortunate in having a workspace that overlooks the Moray Firth. It would be easy to spend all day watching and listening to the sea but I haven’t had much opportunity, last year was very busy with the house move and finalisation of work for two new exhibitions with the international textile group Quilt Art. On top of that I was working towards a solo show in November at the Timeless Textiles Gallery in Australia.
My inspiration is mainly found on my travels but I can find it on my doorstep too. I’m drawn to texture, surface, and colour, strongly influenced by the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi. It’s the relationship between the natural elements and the man-made, such as that resulting from erosion and human use that interests me most. My aim is to create abstract pieces that hover between object and image and speak of imperfection. The starting point are my photographs, manipulated on the computer, zooming in, abstracting them for patterns, marks, and colour references that can then be used for printing and embroidery.
Creating my own materials with which to begin constructing my work is important to me, time is spent on experimenting, and manipulating fabric with print and stitch. Colours, texture and scale are often exaggerated and intensified to reveal the detail and complexity within the original inspiration. It is only when I have a collection of material that I begin to construct a piece; working intuitively, enjoying the challenges and the problem-solving along the way. Piecing together, with parts being added and removed until I’m happy with it. Often deconstructing a fabric that I have just made in order to make something else. Machine stitch is my preference due to arthritis, my fingers don’t like prolonged hand sewing. Usually I will work on more than one piece at a time.
Recently some of my pieces have become 3-dimensional but still wall-based. Although this can be problematic as exhibitions that tour often like work to be flat so it can be rolled, so this brings further challenges.
The work often involves stitched layers therefore fitting the definition of an ‘Art Quilt’ allowing me to widen my exhibiting possibilities. Two years ago, I became a member of the International Textile group Quilt Art, the group currently has two touring shows Material Evidence and Traces. I’m also a member of SAQA and I recently joined Edge Textiles Artists Scotland.
– Susan Hotchkis | @SueHotchkis