Sue Nightingale BA (QTS)Hons Art/Education

Sue's Profile

I was born in Coventry in 1945 at the end of WWII. My earliest visual memories of bombsites, torn up pavements, cinder paths and blackout curtains are as vivid now as they were to my very young eyes. In 1950 my parents and I moved to Norfolk, and the east coast. As an only child I felt quite desolate and isolated by this move, but I developed a lasting love affair with the desolation of the coast itself; the wild North Sea beaches, sand dunes constantly blowing and shifting, and the vast grey skies of a North Sea winter. My childhood was a feast of sights, sounds and experiences that have stayed with me all my life, and have influenced and informed my artwork for the past 50 years.

In 1960 I went Norwich Art School, and spent blissful hours in the sculpture department working with clay, cement and resin, chipping stone and breaking glass. I felt as wild and uninhibited as the North Sea coast I loved, and although I left Art School after only a year, married and started a family, it was also the beginning of a decade of enormous change personally. My artwork continued, and revolved very much around family life and my children.

In 1973, we moved to Ireland where I painted several commissioned portraits in oils and in 1976 two of my paintings were accepted for the All Ireland Exhibition in Limerick. We returned to England in 1981, and although I continued work primarily with portraiture, it would be subsequent visits to Scotland, and to Norfolk again that reminded me of the subject matter that I really loved.

I'd had no formal training for nearly 30 years, until 1991 when I began a 4year Degree in Art and Educational Studies at Warwick University and my focus and development as an environmental artist began there. It was a privilege to work with, and be encouraged by well-respected artists and tutors during that time. I was delighted when some of the work I did for my Final Year Show in 1995 was bought by the University's Sociology Department, and can be seen on campus in the Ramphal Building. I also sold several other pieces privately.

Since 1995 I have continued to work as a teacher in mainstream and special schools, and I see Art as a crucial part of creative and responsive learning for all abilities and needs. I have worked as mentor, advocate and facilitator on several projects for enabling and empowering disaffected young people, and within the mental health service in Coventry. I was Project Manager for a multicultural Community Education Initiative in North Warwickshire (1997-9), and qualified as a Complementary Therapist in Reflexology/Indian Head Massage (2005-6).

Sue's Philosophy

The one thing I'm sure of in my life is that my awareness of art has faithfully padded along beside me over some extremely difficult decades, and has both supported and celebrated my life experiences, and my complexity as a person. During the 1960's there was a freedom of artistic expression that was totally liberating. For me it was the pure joy of Mark Rothko's colours, and the incredibly vital tactile pieces by Robert Rauchenburg, but it was another 30 years before I felt free enough as a mature artist to stretch my own work with as much honesty as they had done, years before.

It's fascinating to me that nature doesn't seem to have lines and hard edges, and never argues with itself. It's Georgia who responds to this so beautifully in her work. As a botanical artist she has taken a particularly difficult and classical approach to portraying and complementing nature, and she is stretching the boundaries at the same time. The challenge I have given myself is quite different, to bring order where it doesn't seem to exist, so for me to strengthen and delineate, to use 'line', is the key to my personal freedom, because it is a discipline. Once I give a painting freedom, a life of its own, it is myself who becomes liberated.