Space studio interview between Susanna Heron and Sarah Conway-Dyer

Susanna Heron is a SPACE artist based in our Britannia Works studios in Bow, London E3. Heron has a long history of working on large-scale public art projects. On a cold afternoon in February Sarah Conway-Dyer managed to catch up with Susanna Heron to ask a few questions about her practice.

Sarah: Could you talk me through one of your recent projects?
Susanna: I recently completed a piece for the Marunouchi building at the Tokyo Station for Mitsubishi. The work was called 36 Elements: Glass Wall. I made a 50ft high structural glass wall etched and sandblasted with a series of drawings. On one side of the wall was an atrium enclosing a hanging garden with large trees and on the other was a series of escalators. The drawings on the glass wall appear to shift as you pass them on the escalator. This space was originally planned as a tranquil area but in reality it is a very busy thoroughfare. The glass wall provides a point of stillness amongst all of this activity.

Sarah: Your drawings are often incorporated into your large scale projects. How do the forms originate?

Susanna: My drawings are influenced by real time, process and by making a ‘rule’. There are two basic rules to the process; I follow a spiral or create a skin that covers a surface. They both start with a central growing point, the outside edges are the result of the interior. They are stopped before they grow too large. The drawings are called ‘Elements’ in the sense that they couldn’t be reduced any further without changing their form. I’m interested in how they work in different locations, people’s perceptions, how the drawing can act as a trigger for a particular place.

Sarah: How important is it to you that your work is socially engaged?
Susanna: I like to work with the everyday and in real time. I like the fact that you can make a subtle work in the public domain that accumulates over a period of years. It is a slow burn. It must survive the utilitarian nature of the environment and not be consumed by it, a lot of public art is invisible for this reason. I like the idea that people come across my work by chance. I like working with chance.

Sarah: You grew up in a very remote part of Cornwall. Has this landscape affected your practice?
Susanna: Growing up in such powerful nature was a big influence on me. You become tremendously humbled by that kind of environment.

Susanna Heron’s future projects include:
A major new external work for the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King in Liverpool and a public artwork to run the length of the main street in the Brunswick Centre, London.

For further information on Susanna Heron’s work visit her website.