The ground paintings reveal a sculptural physicality that embody a tacit strength and fragility.
Gunn explores an original and repetitive technique of building layers of gesso, incorporating natural earth and mineral pigments and base substances such as chalk, coal, and marble dust. Cracks and fissures, typically a defect in the gesso surface, are induced in the work that are beyond the artists control.
The absence of imagery allows a pure meditation of the surface and material as a poesis, in the fundamental sense, a movement of coming into thought of the process of making.
Flaws in the paintings evoke an appreciation of the beauty of imperfection. Conveying the idea that the mending of the broken and damaged provoke a sense of ‘pathos’ and an acceptance of loss, impermanence and flux. She describes her art as "a pre-occupation with the material, and, like.... an expression of spirit, strength, and vulnerability”
“Gunn encourages the interpretation of her work to be metaphorical or philosophical rather than literal or autobiographical, nonetheless they evoke Oscar Wilde’s assertion that, “every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter. The sitter is merely the accident, the occasion.” Gunn does not paint portraits but she does, she admits, reveal herself through practice: the cracks in her paintings are purposeful accidents. The surfaces are provoked to breaking point, but just about holding together. How, then, to look at them, at her? As contradictory? Certainly, but richly so...”
Polly Checkland Harding | Is seeing Believing? Part One 2017
"In Gunn’s paintings there is a subtle tension between the golden section formalism of their geometry and the unruliness of the free-form cracking. They each balance control and abandon, deliberation and chance. This is not the frivolous feminine but the ferocious one, celebrating healing from trauma and taking up space, unapologetically…majestically. Her visceral, loaded work has the monochromatic discipline of Robert Ryman and the meticulous abstraction of Callum Innes" Curator Cherry Smyth
“Susan’s work is an absolutely wonderful example of how incredibly complex simple things can be and also how incredibly simple complexity can be…”
Gunn collaborated with Adapt Low Carbon and Archetype Architects to create the significant painting installation.
"The iconic artwork and concept, mirror the ambitious remit of constructing an innovative low carbon building in the 21st century and is sympathetic to the ethos of the project, using sustainable and natural materials to celebrate the coming together of ambition, architecture and art." Director Ben Humphries
In 2005 she was nominated by Head of Collections Amanda Geitner (Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts and the director of the East Anglian art Fund) for an Arts Council ‘Escalator’ Award to support talented artists in East of England. This included professional and creative support including a series of mentoring sessions with acclaimed artist, Callum Innes.
Gunn gained international recognition when she was awarded the Sovereign European Art Prize in 2006 having been nominated by Professor Colin Self and curator, Cherry Smyth. The judging panel was chaired by Sir Peter Blake RA and comprised of a distinguished selection of judges including: Jorge Molder (Director of Gulbenkien Gallery, Lisbon), Charlotta Kotik (Brooklyn Museum of Contemporary Art & Associate of The National Gallery, Prague), Giorgio Bonomi (President of Zappettini Foundation), Jan Willem Schrofer (President of the Rijksacademie), Charles Esche (Director of the Van Abbes Museum, Eindhoven), Shaheen Mirali (Curator of the Berlin House of Culture), Ami Barak (Head of Art, Ville de Paris) & Bryan Ferry. The inaugural Sovereign European Art Prize, a collaboration between the Sovereign group and Candlestar cultural agency, was launched at The Hayward Gallery in 2005 and culminated in an exhibition and prize giving at Bonhams, London.
She studied at Bolton School of Art in the mid 1980’s and Norwich University of the Arts where she gained a first class Honours degree in Fine Art Painting. She has exhibited widely and has had a number of significant solo and group exhibitions at venues including Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery, the Norwich University of the Arts, East Gallery, Bonhams, Rollo Contemporary, the Crypt at St Marylebone, London, the Portico, Manchester, and The Fine Art Society, London
Gunn works from her studio space at Artwork Atelier and was one of twelve artists selected for the StudioBook 2017 programme produced by Mark Devereux Projects. She is a member of Castlefield Gallery Artists Association and is on the advisory council of Contemporary British Painting - a UK, artist led organisation formed to explore and promote critical context and dialogue in current painting practice through solo and group exhibitions; talks and publications. She has work in a number of public and private collections around the world including the China Academy of Art Museum, Hanzhou, the Madison Museum of Fine Art, USA, the Sainsbury Collection at Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, and the Priseman-Seabrook Collection.
Gunn was shortlisted for the Greater Manchester Arts Prize in 2016 and was one of the prize winners of the Greater Manchester Art Prize 2017.
Susan currently has a solo exhibition Ground: Evolution at HOME Manchester in the Granada Foundation Galleries 1 & 2 in conjunction with HOME projects.
She is also honoured to be selected in the Royal Academy's 250 yr Annivesary Summer Show 12 June - 19 August 2018...the world’s longest running annual display of contemporary art.
Artwork Atelier 2017