Creative Conversations No6: Susan Hughes

28 Feb

Welcome back to creative conversations number six, this week sees me talking to local artist Susan Hughes. We talked to Susan last year, during her exhibition at Weymouth library. You can hear this previous show at: Creative Conversations 7

Right click (or Ctrl click on a Mac) on this link (Creative Conversations with Susan Hughes) to download (Save Link As). Or subscribe to our podcast, or subscribe via iTunes to have it automatically appear in your inbox.

About the show

We start off by hearing about her encouraging people who feel they can’t draw and stimulating them to take part, to make a mark. This year she held another exhibition at Weymouth library, she did it over half term, trying different things. She had somebody dress up in costume which participants could draw and found it to be a very popular and exciting drawing session. These sessions proved great fun and she plans to build them into her future exhibitions. The exhibition featured people who are part of her drawing workshops. These workshops she runs weekly and I’d encourage anybody who lives locally to join. You can hear more about her approach to drawing in  Creative Conversations No 7

Susan was very impressed with people who turned up at the exhibition who said they hadn’t drawn the years and proceeded to create some very beautiful work.

The exhibition this year she had around 40 pictures in, so it doesn’t is packed as the previous year. During our conversation I found it very interesting that artway had taken Paul Klee’s famous remark “taking a line for a walk”, as this was a term I had used for my B-side commission, which had seen me use GPS recordings to create a drawing of the landscape I walked through. this was an animated audio visual artwork that was displayed in Weymouth town centre, at the Maritime mix offices during the Olympics, and was later shown on Portland at Jacksons gallery during ParaOlympics

We proceed to talk about the cultural Olympics and I asked if anything specifically stuck in Susan’s mind. She was most impressed by the festivity of Weymouth during this period. That the Olympics was incredibly exciting here with the stuff on the beach, the big screen, that all the people really got into the spirit. She liked the randomness of cultural events, that she would  happen upon them without knowing it was there. That the Cultural Olympics was seemingly randomly dotted around. She’d have liked it to have been even more random and spread wider then she perceived it. Some of the artworks was strange, but strange in a very good way, and it would have been nicer to see more of that.

But the big part was really the sport and cultural was like a little party that went on around it. We talk about how possibly culture competing with the sports was not a good idea. That the press, and people generally, concentrated on all the sports, so that culture was on the whole missed. I asked if the money would have been better spent before the Olympics hit town. That it would have helped to build up the spirit festivity of the occasion rather than everything happening within two weeks. Which Susan totally agrees with.

We then go on to talk about her work with Wessex Contemporary Arts. She got some work into a gallery on Poundbury, and in an Art Trail that happened in September 2012. She also had an open studio. But found it very difficult to really get any work done during the year because of the Olympics. In a way it was more fun being an outsider looking in and just enjoying the occasion.

Small Red Nude 3 painting

Small Red Nude 3

Susan took part in the Big Draw project after Olympics finished and she felt that this was a beginning, getting back into her creative stride. She has been working on work to go into Dorset County Museum, an exhibition which opens  February 16th 2013. A number of artists have taken an artefact from the Museum and used this to create new work. This is an exhibition by Wessex contemporary arts. Susan is very excited about this show and is looking forward to seeing the whole show as she hasn’t seen the work the other artist have done.

We then talk about who has hung the show. One lady Shirley Cousins is interested in how the Museum chooses objects that have come off the ground and then the Museum puts them in impressive cases. Shirley has had a lot of discussions about this with the museum staff. Susan’s been involved in group meetings about the work on the project and how it can be hung. She’s been doing this project for over a year working on it, going to the museum, visiting max gate, looking at the archive in Museum, sitting in the reading room and looking at the portrait of Emma Gifford, which she finds a very strange portrait. She initially thought she would just do paintings and drawings of this portrait. But the atmosphere of the reading room, sitting there looking at the portrait, looking at the archive has changed how the work has developed. Susan explored the initial meeting of Emma and Thomas Hardy, there was about four years before they got married, travelling back and forward meeting each other. Emma died in 1912 and this inspired Thomas Hardy to write a number of poems, Susan wanted to look at the short period they knew each other. There’s not much left of Emma Gifford now – a couple of photographs, her book of reflections which inspired Hardys poetry. Susan has produced in all 14 paintings. Susan has ideas to continue this body of work. This work has received no funding and her work is entirely funded through her running workshops and training on a one-to-one basis.

Susan had a very strong sense of bereavement from studying Emma life and Hardy’s reaction to Emma dying. She got very emotional to the whole project. It was great getting to work at the Museum, as she loves history and this was a brilliant opportunity. She hopes the work she has produced will possibly go on to open doors in the future.

We talk about how much time a project ideally needs to be developed for and agree that two years is quite a good time span to build up to the finish work. Susan says from the initial idea to the finish work generally takes about a year. She remembers in 2011 going to the museum and talking about the project and the research has continued to grow since them until she had to quickly get down make some marks and create the work. Projects like this you don’t know where it’s going to take you and you have to follow your own direction.

The Drawing class workshop she runs is now in its third year and has grown into also having an evening class at Fire Station community centre. The day workshops are run at St Pauls Church, Abbotsbury Road in Weymouth. She now runs all day drawing classes and these have come about because of the Olympics; because of difficulties booking a room she ran an all-day session. These proved to be incredibly fun sessions and she’s come to continue to do these all day classes. She’s also taken on some one-to-one training with people studying for exams. These activities fund her work and the project mentioned above. She has found operating as an independent person to be incredibly liberating and hasn’t gone for public funding, and had to fill in lengthy funding forms. Because your independent you only have your own artistic integrity to answer to.

Encounters: Wessex Contemporary Artists meet Dorset County Museum. 16 February to 7 June 2013. Entry FREE

To find out more about Susan go to


One Response to “Creative Conversations No6: Susan Hughes”


  1. Overview of Series 2 of Creative Conversation | creative conversations - June 26, 2013

    […] episode 6 sees me talking to local artist Susan Hughes, who is also an artwey member. […]

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