Susannah Paterson Painter, Ceramicist & Psychotherapist

Susannah Paterson (b. 1960, Scotland)

I am an internationally represented Scottish Australian painter and ceramicist living in Sydney,’s Northern beaches. I create vibrant and powerful works about dream states and symbolic narratives, often evoking comparisons to the work of Marc Chagall.

I have always been a dreamer and a treasure hunter, probably to counter a difficult and unusual childhood. I was born into a Scottish Highland farming family and was packed off to an english boarding school from the age of 8. My parents were divorced and remarried - my father remaining in Scotland, and my mother moving to London, marrying a jazz pianist to live a bohemian life. It was between the stark contrast of these two lives that I found refuge in the creative - dreams, fantasy, music, stories and art, always looking for light in the dark, and treasure at the bottom of the mineshaft of loneliness.

Later, when I became a therapist I found myself learning to look for treasures in a different way. I wanted to find the golden thread of hope and insight that would provide healing and vision for my client . Now, on my third career as a painter and a ceramicist, I realise I am doing the same thing. I am on a new quest to find treasures somewhere in between the marks I make, my own dream, and my conscious skill.

I picked up the paintbrush after many years of absence in the late 1990s. I attended art school (Brookvale TAFE) for 2 years, but found the system robbed me of joy, and so I left. I continued working on development of my art practice by attending numerous workshops and with the mentorship of the late Australian artist Kerrie Lester.

As a therapist, I studied hypnotherapy, trance and dream states as a way of healing and I now use this knowledge now to allow a painting develop. Some of the works are taken into symbolic narratives, whilst others are left in their evocative state. All the time I am looking for potential beauty, intrigue, or a narrative which provides a vehicle for conversation and reflection. I paint about infinity, and the infinite possibilities therein, working from a chaotic and unknown beginning, towards meaning and balance, captured by the idea that we all come from "the void" and return to it at the end of our lives.

My ceramics keep me grounded. I am exploring ways to integrate the paintings and the pottery more, either through painting images from my paintings onto large platters, or using those wheel thrown platters as canvases .. I also enjoy making Dogimals - dog like animals - as a way of honouring animals.

I do see the creative process as an analogy of life. We are all born by chance, into some sort of chaos. Everything is unknown. The challenge for us is to create something meaningful and satisfying from the chaos and our inherited “marks”..

My work is always evolving. I am obsessed with colour and emotions and the need to keep drawing the viewer’s attention , as I might have drawn a client’s attention to what is unseen, unexpressed, invisible and what has potential and infinite possibility.


My education is deep and wide. I hold a Masters of Applied Science (Critical Perspectives of Psychological Practice) UWS,
2 Diplomas in Psychotherapy and Counselling, and one in Clinical Hypnotherapy.
I also hold a Certificate of Professional Practice In Buddhist Psychotherapy.

I spent three years at TAFE studying Fine art and Ceramics (2004 - 2007), though my artistic learning style does better in the freer environment of workshops and short courses. The late Kerrie Lester was an important mentor for several years. Her little dog Chilli is now my studio assistant.

Since 2016 I have attended the Open Studio Program at Brookvale TAFE Ceramics Department under the guidance of Master Potter Chris James. Prior to this I studied ceramics at Willoughby for five years with Master Potter Kwirak Choung.

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