Weaving Connections Through Art with SA Artist Sue Martin

Johannesburg based artist, Sue Martin, boldly engages and experiments with a variety of techniques and media to produce her compelling, as well as deeply personal artworks. Filled with an authentic sense of historical and geographical context, as well as an evident link to her South African roots, Sue’s creations are a celebration of our nation – weaving beautiful connections to people and places, and speaking to the soul far deeper than paint on canvas.

Sue has been honing her painting and printmaking skills since the 1980s and today her creative masterpieces are admired by many around the world. Working from her Johannesburg-based studio, Sue continues to exhibit her work extensively with various galleries such as Knysna Fine Art, In Toto Gallery, Artist Proof Studio and The White River Gallery. Most recently her work was selected for exhibition at Design Joburg and Grande Provence, Franschoek.

Sue’s skilful manipulation of composition and typography adds texture to her work, while simultaneously paying homage to her previous career in advertising. She sees her artistic practice as a journey, through which she explores aspects of her lived experience and her personal identity, against a wider historical backdrop.

Sue explains: “Reflecting on my artistic practice, I can hear the voice of acclaimed German artist Anselm Kiefer: ‘What does the artist do? [S]he draws connections. [S]he ties the invisible threads between things. [S]he dives into history, be it the history of mankind, the geological history of the Earth or the beginning and end of the manifest cosmos’ (Kiefer 2011).

“In some ways, I see my creative process as a response to Kiefer’s assertion. I imagine myself taking up the mantel in my studio space, and weaving connections between a variety of historical and geographical sources. However, as I look outwards at the complex history of the world, I am acutely aware of the driving force that motivates my engagement in this project: to engage and better understand a personal exploration of ‘belonging’.

“As a third-generation South African living and working in Johannesburg, in the post-apartheid era, this exploration remains embedded in the nucleus of my practice and often informs the starting point for my artworks. I frequently incorporate found objects into my work, such as historical maps, that bring with them their own history. I respond to these objects by painting on them, and drawing into them, thereby
creating a multitude of layers revealing and obscuring images and ideas. By building up these layers, I encourage the viewer to look beneath the veneer of the artworks. It is through this process of disentangling and extracting meaning, that the viewer becomes an active participant in translating the images and threading their own connections, and narratives, into the artworks.”


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