We’re loving Suzie Sullivan’s giclée prints of her wonderful felt creations on ArtClickIreland. Here’s an extract from a recent interview Suzie had with Áine Ryan of The Mayo News:
WAY down a winding and narrow road off the road to Drummin, near Westport, there is a fairyland of soft cuddly creatures living in a magical cottage filled with beads and baubles, paintings and prints, rugs and cards. There is even a giant black cat cuddled up beside the stove. It may not be smiling quite like the Cheshire variety, but that county in northwest England is precisely where Suzie Sullivan and her husband, Steve Bryant, moved from after their first holiday in Westport in the mid-1990s.
Of course, it is all Chieftain Matt Molloy’s fault that the couple upped sticks and moved to remote Sheefry House, where Suzie established Derryaun Crafts, over a decade ago.
“We came to Mayo because of Matt Molloy’s pub. We had a CD that was recorded in the pub, and I play bouzouki and Steve plays tenor banjo, so on that first visit we sat and played along with the other musicians for 14 nights. We thought we had died and gone to heaven and naturally we kept coming back,” says Suzie Sullivan as we sit down at her large studio table.
I have already been ‘Oohing and Aahing’ at the wonderful world of her artistry and craftsmanship. Unsurprisingly, it was fêted recently at the 2013 RDS National Crafts Competition, where she won first and second prizes – an unusual achievement, by all accounts – in the Felting Category for her pieces entitled ‘River Bank Friends’ and ‘Legends’, respectively.
Created from hand-dyed wool, ‘River Bank Friends’ were inspired by ‘the magical characters from ‘The Wind in the Willows’ and were sculptured using a felt needle. The concept for ‘Legends’ was inspired ‘by the folk tales of old Ireland’s rich and mysterious past’ and ‘embellished with beads, wire, copper sheet and stitching’.
“My work is usually inspired by the Mayo landscape, the mountains obviously, and the traditional musicians of course, as well as children’s illustrated books from years ago and Harry Clarke stain-glassed windows,” Suzie explains.
She says that she might ‘get a new idea and dwell on it for a while’, then when she gets ‘her space’ during the dark days of winter she begins to create the pieces.
When Suzie Sullivan first attended a felt-making workshop at The Threshing Barn in Staffordshire in 1999 she quickly became ‘intrigued by the notion that soft-wool fibre could be transformed into a solid self-supporting fabric using soap, water and friction’. She quickly learned to use silk, hemp and linen to create unique blends of colour and texture to her work.
Her move from the UK to Ireland simply brought this creative quest to a new level when she became stimulated by ‘the dramatic landscape and subtlety of light and weather conditions’ of her new home place.
“My work has a whimsical charm and it always gives me pleasure when I raise a smile from an amused onlooker,” she says, confirming that American visitors are particularly taken by the more ‘fanciful’ creations.