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Committee of Lorne Article | Susan Sutton - Artist


Storm over the Pier?

Fish of the Day?

Surfboats on the beach?

Breakfast on Mountjoy Parade?

Surf Coast visual artist Susan Sutton is well known and highly regarded for her representational coastal images.

The personal collection of much loved Lorne paintings, plus many recent works from over two decades as a painter in and around the town, are now considered 'slices of history'. These works embrace and reflect on the passing of time in an era of constant change, much of which has been controversial in recent times.

Qdos Arts has provided an outstanding venue for most of Sutton's popular career exhibitions since the early 2000s and the Gallery is now set to present a widely anticipated show, during the coming Long Weekend 10th - 13th June, of what is expected to be the artist's final full exhibition of Lorne paintings.

The love affair began with the lifestyle move to Lorne from Geelong to establish family businesses with her then husband St.John and three young children in the mid 1970s. Already well connected as a secondary school art teacher in Geelong and the retailing of arts and crafts, Sutton discovered moving to the beautiful, atmospheric, coastal environment promised the flourishing of her personal artistic satisfaction.

However, with a young family and the pressures of business, time was very limited, the commitment to painting needed to wait. Pastels and watercolours became the easiest to handle in the early disrupted years and the gradual, serious transition to oils took place in the late 1990s.

During the watercolour phase, Erskine House, as it was still known then, commissioned a set of eight paintings of Lorne which were reproduced as art prints to be framed and hung in refurbished rooms. It was a considerable confirmation of a developing career.

Over many years, the artist would often be seen with easel and paintbox out at the pier precinct or at the Erskine River estuary, or on the main beach rocks during an easterly blow!

The Annual Lorne Lions Easter Art Shows opened an avenue to regularly exhibit and sell early works. There was a strong interest in Susan Sutton art works right from the start, they sold well and by the 2000s she was regularly awarded prizes, particularly for oils.

Reputation spread and 'collectors' began to emerge, numerous paintings were purchased for presentations in Lorne and certain oil paintings were reproduced as art prints and sold extensively along with many art cards that are still available.

In expanding her individual career with Lorne as the focus, there needed to be a major move away from group shows. Fortuitously this came in the form of an offer by Graeme Wilkie for a small exhibition at Qdos Arts in 2002. It was successful and from that point, with regular ongoing exhibitions, the Qdos 'partnership' grew to what it is today.

Sutton recognises the township with its ocean, bush amphitheatre and beaches has provided an endless supply of subjects that have captured her artistic interest and abilities for representational images.

Most of Sutton's much loved works contain narratives focussing on people around the pier precinct, enjoying the beaches, socialising in cafes and restaurants, or participating in sports such as Surf Carnival events and the annual Pier to Pub open water swim.

The Lorne SLSC connection has been considerable. In 2011, the Club produced its substantial History Book and a greatly researched, detailed Sutton oil painting was commissioned for the wrap-around cover. The resulting painting itself is privately owned, the Club owns copyright and back then the image was reproduced as a limited edition of art prints.

In 2018 the career book SUSAN Sutton - the artist and her art was published. It immediately became an important record of the lengthy connection with Lorne and many memorable paintings.

Recent decades have delivered considerable change to Lorne. The Mountjoy Parade streetscape redevelopment, the new Pier, the Stribling Reserve upgrading, plus many businesses have come and gone possibly pressured by the Covid years. Now there is the controversy burdening the Pier precinct.

Reminiscing has coloured many a person's thinking. Luckily many historical photographic images have recorded change and Sutton's paintings also reflect much of the above.

However, the two decades of oils in this special exhibition bypass representational images alone and display the artist's significant and enduring love affair with Lorne.

Lorne - a twenty year retrospective

10th - 13th June at Qdos Arts

35 Allenvale Road, Lorne. Ph 03 52891989 www.qdosarts.com