Sue Martin is a South African artist, working primarily in mixed media, contemporary style paintings
Sue grew up in the early 60’s in rural Natal. From an early age she was fascinated by the creative process and went on to study a Fine Arts Degree at the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg.
Sue enjoys experimenting with various media, including photography. Her constant is the use of oil pigments that often sit on the surface, hovering above the landscape. There is a sense of the figures being displaced from their surroundings. “Art is about a journey, an exploration of something that is new and relevant to me. “
The subject matter also offers a snapshot, a moment that is caught. Depicting migrant labourers, farm workers, mineworkers, subject matter that is relevant to her growing up on a farm and observing the ebb and flow of the rural workforce.
Sue’s work has relevance, in the sense that her subject matter, the “Urban Cowboy” is captured in such a way that he takes on an identity, just like the archival photos that Sue also derives inspiration from. These people often take on a momentous quality. “They become “heroic” within the context of my work,” cites Sue.
Her subject matter spans her two lives between Natal and Johannesburg. All these people who have come from a rural life to seek their fortune, these rural herdsmen earning their living from herding trollies of paper and plastic around Johannesburg.
Currently, Sue is working on a series that looks at another side of the “City of Gold.” The men that have left their homelands to come and work on the mines. Sue has used archival photographs as well as her own images that she has taken of abandoned mines, which she has transferred onto steel sheeting. Like the faded photographs, Sue is creating “veils” of colour by applying layers of beeswax and oil pigment which are fused together by heating with a flame, before applying a new layer. “This gives the painting a washed out, faded quality, similar to the archive photos,” describes Sue.
The mines, like the archive photographs, are becoming a fading memory. “I am trying to capture that elusiveness, called time,” concludes Sue.