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Susie David explores water in its many forms with an enthusiasm that is as infectious as the work is captivating. Her work draws creative energy through accepting and embracing tension and uncertainty and through surrender to processes beyond her control.

In many ways David's work is a collaborative endeavour between herself and water, allowing the steam or the tides, falling rain or still waters to shape and respond to the ink she pours into it, the paper she leaves under it, the lens she points towards it. The work is as delightfully unrestrained by form as her subject matter is by use. Large-scale drawings made with seaweed in the midst of the encroaching tide are shown alongside various projections and film pieces. One such film shows white and black inks poured into still water. Filmed from underneath white ink becomes a dreamy mass of lazy tendrils, mesmerising as they stretch slowly downwards before the sudden injection of black ink swallows them up, jarring the viewer from a trance-like reverie with a realisation and reminder of darker and more disturbing possibilities.

There is a continual sense that water, frequently domesticated and controlled, is - like life - ultimately unknowable and un-containable. A projection onto the floor in a corner of David's darkened space shows the edge of a broken wave lapping into the room as if spilling in from the other side of the wall before retreating and leaving the room empty, dry and, above all, safe.

While delighting in and affirming life through interaction with water, its metaphors and its poetry, the threat of the unknown and that which can never be controlled is a constant presence in David's work – an intriguing and at times intimidating unknown just beneath the surface.

Darren Harvey-Regan
 

In making studies outside with the sea, river, rain... I learn about Water's philosophy. This philosophy helps me develop a Water mind-set. In the studio I set out to enter Water's mindset (or is it a state of being?) and make work as if I were Water, liberating myself from any rigid dry pre-conceived notions or conventions.

 

Taking a battered old supermarket bag of arts materials down to the edge of the sea, - this magical place of transformation and becoming, I find I have come to my own edge and here we meet and overlap, in a kind of conversing. This is what they call a liminal place - a threshold, a cross-over. As I observe with pencil sketches, films, photographs and writings, I sense that this is not only a place where Water is dynamically expressing its ephemeral liminal forms, but that it has sentience. I sense it is sensing me. Swimming midwinter with the hail hammering down on my head, I have sunk down into it as far as possible, I am aware of its quiet presence all around me. As it sweeps me out of my depth on a rip tide, I am aware of its power and ability to take lives. Snorkelling in the Summer I am aware of it supporting life. As you enter water, there is a need to give yourself up to it; to let go of hard and fast rules of hard and fast life. and places of becoming, such as the edge of the sea, stream, tide, rain, melt, mist - dynamic places of overlap, where edges blur. A call to embrace, moment by moment, our own wild untameable essence. I make intuitively observed sketches and interactions, whether 2D, 3D, pixel, or word, through diverse materials and equipment, in diverse situations such as in drawing in response to a wracked stormy shore, to duck-diving beneath a calm summer river to film, or channeling a water mindset in my studio. I do this because I feel the instinctive need to learn from water as though our lives and future depends upon it.

And this our life, exempt from public haunt,

Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,

Sermons in stones, and good in everything.

 

This process of mine, which is led by Water itself, finds resonance within Eastern philosophies - also rich in Water metaphor, especially Wu-wei (flow state), Zen (the direct experience of deep reality, yet not separate from the ordinary) and  Ziran (another, little-known Taoist principle of spontaneity). 

What is Zen? It’s both something we are—our true nature expressing itself moment by moment—and something we do—a disciplined practice through which we can realize the joy of being. It is not a belief system to which one converts. There is no dogma or doctrine. Zen is the direct experience of what we might call ultimate reality, or the absolute, yet it is not separate from the ordinary, the relative. This direct experience is our birthright. The practice of zazen—meditation—is a way of realizing the non-dualistic, vibrant, subtle, and interconnected nature of all life. 

https://zenstudies.org/teachings/what-is-zen/

 

nb. A daily yoga and meditation practice forms part of my art practice so I am well-prepared to attend to my work with water, and honour it with fresh awareness. 

Susie David

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