As I step into Susan Fraser-Hughes’ studio, I am instantly drawn into the series she is currently working on. There are several black and white head like images in this series titled "Just a Moment".
She is using two 19th century vintage head mannequins used for hat making, as models to draw from.
They are simple heads with only a slight hint of a nose, each, altered just enough to express the feeling she is after. They are similar, yet worlds of subtle emotions apart. The utter simplicity and lack of gender and facial features allow these images to hold a purity of her feeling and experience. They are clearly, intimate and fragile explorations, infused with raw strength. An unusual twist, she recently discovered that her grandmother, who was hardly spoken of and she never knew, likely had head mannequins just like these. She was a hat maker.
Susan’s charcoal on mylar drawings of landscapes are breathtaking. Her forest and ocean drawings seem to magically draw me way in beyond the depth of the black and white surface. The deeper I go, I the less I am able to discern the shadows from the trees or the background from the foreground. They stir my mind in a lovely way.
I could sit by her oceanscapes for hours just waiting for that wave to come in which I just know it will just as soon as I look away.
Her play with light is completely unlawful but so subtle it feels correct and yet, it doesn’t matter because she is talking about something that goes far beyond logic. She is taking me into her special places and showing me how astonishing and special they are.
All this exquisite imagery (I’m so tempted to call it magic) is created with just a sheet of mylar and a stick of charcoal.
I kept asking what other tools uses, maybe a dry brush or stipple pen? But no, she just journeys in with these two materials and a profound longing to explore and understand.