Susan Stockwell’s work takes many forms from small elaborate studies to large scale installations, sculpture, drawings and collage. It is concerned with issues of ecology, geo-politics, mapping, trade and global commerce. The materials used are the everyday, domestic and industrial disposable products that pervade our lives. These materials are manipulated and transformed into works of art that are extraordinary.
One of Stockwell’s recent exhibitions ‘Flood’ in York was made entirely from four tons of recycled computer components that were transformed into a site specific installation in St Marys’ a de-consecrated 13th century church. Highlighting the materials beauty the piece seeps into the space and surrounds us with its toxic exquisiteness. The computers were dissected, their innards exposed, revealing the underbelly of the machines we take for granted, an autopsy of our consumer society. The materials were lent by Secure IT Recycling (www.sitr.com) based in Cheshire and after the exhibition were returned to them to be recycled.
This is an important element in the large scale installations where Stockwell borrows materials to make the work. For example she made a body of work from industrial scale toilet tissue (1990’s)-sponsored by Kimberly-Clark. The translucent floating sheets became light tunnels and huge ponderous stacks, alluding to monumentality and ancient civilisations, yet they were temporal and fragile, not easily recognisable as toilet tissue. She chooses these ‘commodity’ materials because, in her words, they contain ‘stains of existence’ and act as ready-made signifiers which she can sculpt and interweave in ways that delicately reveal their obscured politics and hidden beauty.
The Curator Grace Chung describes the works gently revealing nature – ‘Accumulation, transformation, detritus, and debris, everyday materials are all recurrent themes in Stockwell’s work. Meticulously hand crafted, the benign sublime beauty in the work belies the devastating effects of our culture and our role in shaping it. Look more closely, and one is confronted by a cultural urgency of global-proportions. Political and cultural colonization, globalize waste and consumption are reconfigured by Stockwell’s work into a new festering eco system of meaning that slowly seeps like the rising ocean level.’
(From the text for the exhibition B-side Ecology, MIMI Space at the Hong’s Foundation for Education and Culture, Taipei, Taiwan 2008)
Stockwell exhibits in galleries and museums all over the world. She has exhibited at 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, grants and commissions such as a Visiting Arts Taiwan-England Artists Fellowship, an Arts and Humanities Research Council Grant and recently completed a large public commission for the University of Bedfordshire in the UK. She has taught extensively and taken part in residencies and projects in Europe, America, Australia and Asia.
Susan is based in London, England