Susan Wood was a remarkable Canadian artist, educator and friend. Since 1990, Susan was a frequent exhibitor at Studio 21 Fine Art. On a regular basis, she brought new artistic treasures to the gallery, created either in the studio in her back garden in Halifax or at the cottage studio on the Northumberland Strait. Her studio was adorned with decades of her drawings, with the carapaces of insects and frogs that were collected as subjects, with pots of bright inks and sheets of gorgeous handmade papers, brushes, pens and pencils, and other artefacts. Wood called herself a “material girl” and these physical evidences of artistic making were very important.
Susan’s visits to Studio 21 also included student groups and careful consideration and enjoyment of the work of other gallery artists. She was always turned out in some fashionable garment often purchased from a Canadian designer. Her intelligent comments were delivered in a distinctive, low and humorous voice.
More recently, Susan was a companion to the gallery team when Studio 21 staff visited art fairs in Montreal and New York. We ate some delicious meals together and looked at art.
Recently, to prepare for this exhibition, we looked through completed work that Susan had stored in her home. Some of the selections have been seen in earlier public exhibitions, some are studies for larger work and haven’t left her studio and home until now. Although there were many pieces to consider, we were surprised that there weren’t more, because of her continual production. This is explained by the fact that so many of her completed artworks were so accomplished and appealing that they have entered collections; and by the fact that she re-used less successful works as elements of later ones.
Susan’s creations focused on insects, botanicals, birds and their nests. They continually explore the sensual relationship between eye and hand as she observed and described objects of the natural world. They are each an elegy to a life of great attention and feeling.