Sue tells stories, responding to current events including the COVID-19 pandemic, celebrating rural life and commenting on our society. She makes her own egg tempera paint, a technique learned in Sweden where she has helped revive this form in its native place.
Community folk art projects have become an important part of her work. From a Swedish Saga with 25 participants to the history of Ashbourne with over 170 participants, she uses folk art to empower groups and communities to tell their own shared stories. The resultant art works become treasured heirlooms for the communities. On 26th January 2020 Sue appeared on BBC Countryfile preparing her community painting for Bamford in the Peak District National Park.
Sue is based at her family's organic dairy farm in the southern Peak District National Park where they also offer three award winning holiday cottages and a restored Haybarn venue for courses and exhibitions.
I want to tell stories in the way they have always been told, particularly now in our digital age. Who celebrates our modern stories so we ordinary people can feel part of them, and take part in them?
Recording daily lives and paying respect to how people live in their places, whether rural or urban is what fascinates me. I use egg tempera paints, in a Swedish Folk Art tradition of Bonad painting. Doing this with ancient and organic materials; egg yolk and earth pigments gives my work integrity but is also a process that I am obsessed with.
One bonad, several 'bonader': decorative wall hangings in Swedish. I produce Swedish style folk art with homemade egg tempera on linens or canvas. This style of painting died out in the 1800s and I have been instrumental in its revival in Sweden, where I taught classes every summer for eleven years.
I can't begin to tell you the gorgeous feel of the silky egg tempera paint as it glides on to the gesso surface (I can show you if you come on a course, though). It is a beautiful sensation to grind the pigments- each one has a different consistency and character, Titanium white is creamy and robust, yellow ochre is a little grittier and raw and burnt umber are smooth like chocolate sauce. It just feels like a huge privilege to have discovered this technique and be allowed to practice.
I am a rural artist, working at Beechenhill Farm, my family's organic dairy farm, in the beautiful Peak District National Park in the centre of rural England. I belong to Peak District Artisans who celebrate individual creativity and collective excellence. My company is Beechenhill Artworks Ltd, registered number: 03583912 (England & Wales) Registered Office The Old Vicarage, 51 St John Street, Ashbourne, Derbyshire, DE6 1GP