Suzanne Holtom

There is an overriding interest in the creative tension between content and structure in my work. I do think in terms of narratives and themes to each series of paintings, but the actual process of making is also the key idea. There are as much obliterations and erasures in the development of the paintings as construction. There is a lot of improvisation and structures are tested as much as composed. The stories in Ovid’s metamorphosis are a recurrent source and sometimes just incidental moments from my memory can get reworked into narratives. Scale is important, epic themes collide with the trivial or commonplace.

Phaethon and festivals of Venus (Veneralia) are important themes in more recent work. In Ovid’s story of Phaethon, the impetuous son of Pheobus loses control of the horses and chariot of the sun creating chaos in the scorched and burning heavens and earth. Paintings by Rubens and the landscapes of Chuck Jones (Wiley Cayote and Roadrunner) have been instrumental for ideas of imagery, movement and theatricality. In ‘Changer of Hearts’ entangled marks suggest teeming appetites and sensuality, they play against inset visions of guilt and judgment as part of the ‘Veneralia’ series.

Velasquez ‘Spinners’ was a starting point for the Dreamweaver series. The theme of painting and weaving was central, layers of paint building a tapestry-like surface connecting swipes, smears and tangles into shifting images and spaces. The story of Arachne and Minerva considers questions of creative ambition, the intoxicating forces of power and transformation and the contested relationship between art and craft. The paintings attempted to create a flickering vision of female artistry and industry.

Suzanne Holtom is an painter based in London. She studied at Cardiff and The Slade School of Fine Art. Holtom was included in The Jerwood Painting prize in 2003. Recent shows include ‘Fortune and Folly’ Fine Arts Gallery, ‘Storyboard’ Lubomirov Angus Hughes, London, ‘hardware’ Centre Studios, London, ‘Correspond’ – Artworks, Halifax & Turps Studio, ‘On Line Off Line’ Studio 1.1, London, ‘Cloud Chambers’ – Mayors Parlour Gallery, London. Holtom was the recipient of a Woo Foundation Bursary and has been awarded Individual Artists Grants from the Arts Council England in 2003 and 2008. In 2008 Holtom worked with Birth Rites, a residency and touring exhibition developed by curator Helen Knowles exploring the practice and politics of childbirth. Holtom exhibited her work at Glasgow Science Centre and Manchester Museum. Paintings are held in permanent collections at Kings College, London and in the Birth Rites collection Salford.

artist’s website