Susan Christie is a ceramist who has just joined The Poi Room. We are so excited to have her work within our galleries and online we thought we'd get to know a little more about Susan & her art practice as an Artist.
What do you make/art practice?
I am a painter and ceramic artist based in North Shore Auckland
What does a normal day look like for you?
I try to be really disciplined and get the boring stuff out of the way first. Following my morning coffee, I get stuck into packing orders and computer work. That way I can enjoy the rest of the day doing what I love… creating.
At the moment I am predominately working with clay. I hand build all by ceramics out of slabs of flat clay. I recently invested in a large slab roller and wow what a game changer that is! A slab roller rolls out large quantities of clay, which I then cut the forms from and assemble into three-dimensional ceramic works. Each form takes at least a week to dry, I then paint the forms with underglaze and then they are fired in the kiln twice. Every piece takes over ten days to create.
Working from home makes it easy to juggle helping kids with homework and doing house hold chores. I love the fact I don’t have to battle that Auckland traffic to get to work. Working from home is not for everyone, but I love it.
How did it all begin - Where did this passion for ceramics?
For me, the process of making and creating is part of my DNA. My parents were both very creative people and loved the simple pleasure of making with their hands. From making and designing clothes to furniture, my parents made everything for the pure pleasure and the added bonus of saving money!
When I look back, it’s like that creative DNA was always there, I just didn’t recognise it. At age 23, when I finished my registration as a psychologist, I immediately began doing creative night classes at the local high school. I did everything from ceramics, sewing, landscape gardening to interior design. Also, as a child, I have very specific ‘happy memories’ of creating. I would spend hours digging up clay in the back garden and making little pinch pots.
Having kids was also a real opportunity for me indulge my creative side. I was not that sporty mum that kicked a ball around in the garden. I was inside making play dough and getting all the craft stuff out and getting messy!!
As soon as my youngest started school, I started doing painting classes through Matthew Browne School of Art. After a few years with Mathew, he recommended that I complete a degree at AUT. So, (I’m in my forties by this stage !!) I decided to go for it. It was scary going back to University as an adult student but I desperately wanted to take art to the next level. I did worry about how I would juggle the kids and all their after-school activities. As it turns out I had nothing to worry about. I loved every minute of it and because we mothers learn to juggle so many things, I could complete written assignments in half the time the school leavers could. My graduating show included both paintings and ceramics. The highlights of the experience were getting the AUT painting award in my first year and being selected for the Eden Arts Awards in my last year. Yay, felt so good!
Where do you find inspiration as an Artist come from?
My work occurs on the edge of contemporary visual culture where the traditional disciplines of art, design, fashion and craft are blurred. I think some really interesting things can happen at the intersection of disciplines. In a nutshell, I take inspiration from the history of art and design, as well as modern architecture and fashion.
What do you love most about working & living in Aotearoa?
The beauty of the land and sea. I feel very lucky to live in Bayswater by the sea. I find being by the water very energising. My favourite place to holiday in NZ is Lake Tarawera. We have been going there as an extended family for the past 10 years and I have never seen anywhere more beautiful than the sun rising over Mount Tarawera across the lake. It is a wonderful place for my whole family to come together and enjoy water sports on the lake.
How has your artwork change over time?
Falling in love with clay has been the biggest change. However, storytelling through simple forms and colour remains the constant across both paint and clay.
How has the social media and the internet affected your artwork?
I love Instagram as it gives artists their own voice and platform to showcase their work and connect with likeminded people. I have met so many wonderful creatives online and then had the opportunity to meet them in person as well. It was through Instagram that I was invited to exhibit at Paris Design week in 2017. The organisation Meet My Project invited myself and 40 other artists and designers from 20 different countries to exhibit during the international event. Of course, I had to drop everything and go with my work to Paris! Such a buzz and a fantastic opportunity to meet artists from so many different countries.
What is your studio/creative space like?
It is my happy space. It is the original kitchen in a 100-year-old Californian bungalow and although it has been renovated it still has the original fireplace and French doors out to a deck. One side of the studio is the clean zone for my computer and other side is the space for creating and making a mess. My kiln is held in a workshop outside in the garden. It would create too much heat to be in the studio with me.
What drew you to working with The Poi Room?
I was so pleased when Melanie-Jane contacted me after she read a design blog about me written by Alana Broadhead of Sunday. I already knew and loved the Poi Room so it was a no brainer to join this amazing art family.
Describe your relationship with The Poi Room & how our values fit with your business?
I strongly believe in supporting local, homegrown New Zealand businesses and artists. Melanie-Jane and Clayton have created beautiful galleries show casing and promoting NZ Made. Even before I started exhibiting there, it was my go-to place for unique, quality art and special gifts. Made by Kiwis for Kiwis. It is a privilege to be part of.
Well here we are again... As we are Auckland galleries we were thrown back into level 3 basically overnight with the doors to our wonderful galleries closed to customers. At least we have had some prior experience at this level. A little bit of de-ja-vu with a huge amount of “oh my goodness, not again”.