Susannah Paterson

© 2000-17 Susannah Paterson Contact Me

Susannah Paterson (b. 1960, Scotland)

I am a figurative abstract painter, potter and treasure hunter.
My paintings explore the infinite field of the unconscious and my pottery is playful or functional - either way, the goal is to make you smile.

I have always been a treasure hunter. It's a narrative I can track right back to my earliest memories - being hypnotised by the diamond trail left by Jack Frost on the window pane on a Scottish winter morning, to scouring through the ancient Bronze Age settlement at the back of my childhood home hoping to find a remnant of lives lived thousands of years ago. Listening to stories of buried Viking hoards, aching to find one of my own. Searching the ruins of the Norman castle on my father’s farm, which is rumoured to have a lost smugglers tunnel leading down to the cliffs below. Later, when I became a therapist, I found myself learning to hunt for treasure in a different way - finding the golden thread of hope, the trove of memory and meaning that would complete a picture and provide insight and healing.

Now, as a painter and potter I realise I am doing the same thing. Each work is a new quest to find the treasure hidden in between the marks I have unconsciously and consciously made. The field of the unconscious is a mine of treasure indeed.

My work is both evocative and playful, sometimes dark, sometimes light - always looking to express the potential of an accidental mark or shape. People, animals, trees, furniture, houses, water, wind, and so much more, appear in my work as abstract figures and suggestions of the maelstrom of life.

Paintings begin with chaotic expressive marks, and I gradually work towards an evocative composition. I hunt for beauty, potential, duality and a narrative or universality that will provide a vehicle for conversation and reflection.

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 chaos must be formed it into something meaningful or harmonious - given a purpose. Always the process seems to be from simple to complex and back, pendulating between messy and neat, formed and unformed hopefully somehow coming to rest in a place of balance.

Occasionally people comment about an element of darkness in the work. True. Nobody’s life is completely light, bright and joyful, and to ignore the dark would be unbalanced and the equivalent of sweeping the dirt under the carpet. Interesting lives and interesting work contains suffering as well as joy.


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 Chris James. Prior to this I studied ceramics at Willoughby for five years with Kwirak Choung and Natalie Velthuyzen.

Art Prizes

Northbridge Art Prize, 2018, The One You Feed, Fragments of a Dream, and Graffitti Dogimal
Finalist, Art Lovers Australia 2018 Queen of Hearts
Finalist, Contemporary Art Awards 2018 - A Still Life
Finalist, Contemporary Art Award 2018 - Wide Eyed (Back Then A Mixture of Things Happened)

Northbridge Art Prize, 2017 - Squashed and Urban
Special Merit, Light, Space & Time On Line Gallery - Open Art Competition - Wide Eyed (Back Then)
Special Merit, Light Space & Time On Line Gallery - Abstract Art Competition - Let Sleeping Dogs Lie 2016
Finalist, Kirribilli 40th Anniversary Art Prize 2016 My Obsession With Bowls
Finalist, Ewart Art Prize 2016 Conscious Unconscious
Finalist , Ewart Art Prize 2015 Hare & Things
Finalist and Commended 2011 48th Lane Cove Council Art Award Three Dog Night
Finalist North Sydney Art Prize 2004, 2005 & 2009
Finalist Manly Warringah Art Prize 2004

Solo Exhibitions

2018 Evocative, Contemporary Art Awards Online
2015 Three Points of Attention, me.artspace, St Leonards NSW
2015 Changeable Art, North Sydney Community Art Centre
2014 Untitled, Mojo, Neutral Bay
2013 Journeys Dreams & Daemons Ewart Gallery, Willoughby NSW
2012 Untitled, Mezze Cafe, Chatswood

2012 Not The Bathroom Wall - students of Kerrie Lester, Ewart Gallery, Willoughby
2012 Thrown Together, ceramic exhibition by Kwirak Choung’s students, Ewart Gallery

Group Shows

2018 Take The Lead, NSW Craft, George Street, The Rocks, Sydney (The Dogimals)
Open Studio Brookvale TAFE at the NSW Craft Gallery, The Rocks, Sydney
2017 Australian Ceramics Association, Open Studios 2017
2016 The Real Refuse, Tap Gallery, Surry Hills
2015 A Sense of Place, North Sydney Council The Dogwalker (purchased for the Council's Cultural Collection)
2014 Hidden Volumes, ceramic exhibition by Kiwrak Choung’s students, Ewart Gallery
2011 Art Fair 2011 Ewart Gallery Workshop Arts Centre, Willoughby
2009 Student Exhibition at Brookvale TAFE (Ceramics)
2009 Students of Kristin Coburn, SOFA Landship Gallery, Mosman
2007 Student Exhibition at Brookvale TAFE (Painting, Drawing & Sculpture)
2003 Doodle - students of Sarah Mufford Ewart Gallery, Willoughby