Susan Collis, Conchi, 2008
Even knowing about Collis’s transformations of ordinary objects, there’s something surprising about her works that mimic laundry bags. These aren’t readymades subtly transformed by the inlaying of jewels; they’re even less what they seem to be at first glance. Rather than woven plastic, the bags are made of paper – okay for thoroughly dry laundry, but run out of coins in the laundrette and there’s a chance your bag could collapse on the way home – and their woven appearance is just that: an appearance. A very carefully drawn on one.
Susan Collis, The Oyster’s Our World, 2004
A stepladder. Every gallery should have one, of course. And every studio. And, come to that, every home. So what makes a stepladder worth writing about? Well, of course, you can analyse anything really if you set your mind to it. In the case of this stepladder, the signs are there. The traces of paint suggest it’s reasonably well used but it’s not completely covered in paint the way it would be if constantly in use for decorating. As a gallery step ladder, the odd bit of white paint is to be expected but it’s quite likely that it’s often in use for hanging work so a bit painty but not too painty makes perfect sense.
But why wouldn’t the gallery clear the ladder away when it’s not in use? That’s the question. And of course, it’s a question that makes it worth taking a closer look.
Susan Collis, Don’t Get Your Hopes Up, 2007
As the end of the academic year approaches, the time has come to turn a very messy art school studio into as good an approximation of a white cube gallery space as possible. I love the process of making the end of year exhibition but I’m not so keen on the construction part of it. All that filling, sanding, cleaning and painting is stupidly tiring – even for me, and frankly I mostly direct proceedings while others to the actual work – and pretty stressful. We always get it done but there’s always a point where it seems like we won’t. Which brings my thoughts to work that reminds me of the tools we need and the work that needs doing.
Susan Collis’s work fits the bill perfectly. After all, her exhibition Don’t Get Your Hopes was basically a gallery in need of some art, right? Well, appearances can be deceptive.