Monday, February 2, 2009

remembering sue

I know I am in danger of turning this blog into a memorial, but I wanted to mark the passing of a close and longtime friend of 20 years who took her life 9 years ago today.

Sue Howard was a very talented Sydney painter who won several awards for her work. I really felt that at the time of her death she was just hitting full stride with her creative development.

sue in my Paris studio

She and I met when we both worked at the 'salubrious' Old Spaghetti Factory in the Rocks, Sydney in 1980. (A nasty fast food joint that churned out third rate pasta for the masses.)

We clicked immediately as we both shared a love of artmaking and travel.

Many years ago she and I discussed how great it would be to be able to buy a little house in the south of France and settle there to live and make work. My desire was little more than a whim really, but Sue went ahead and did it. Unfortunately the fantasy was a long way from reality and she had many years of hardship because of it.

In 1995 I was awarded a studio through the Art Gallery of NSW to live and work in Paris. This was an incredible opportunity to spend quality time in a city that I have been to many times and love dearly. It turned out to be one of the best times of my life. Every day all I had to think about was either making art or wandering the streets of Paris investigating its lanes and alleyways, monuments and cafes.

the studio workspace

The studio was situated in the Cite Internationale des Arts, on the banks of the Seine right alongside Ile St. Louis (the smaller of the two islands) on the edge of the Marais. My studio was on a corner of the building that housed around 250 or more different ateliers. From my windows I could see the Seine, a beautiful old Palais and a Gothic arts library.

view from studio

night view from window

view from window

The Cite, I believe, has around 300 studios in several locations around Paris and they provide live in residencies for artists across all media - visual artists, writers, musicians, singers, dancers etc. My neighbours included a Swiss sculptor, a Croatian painter, an American Opera Singer and a Romanian concert pianist.

some friends made

One afternoon there was a knock at my studio door and when I answered there was Sue. She had travelled up from Italy where she had been staying to Sue-prise me! I almost fell over. It was incredible to be able to spend some time with her in that amazing city.

small abstract by sue (oil on paper 20c x 18cm)
(poor photo quality - taken under glass.)

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