Susie Hamilton, Asda 1, 2012, Monoprint, 46 x 39 cm © Susie Hamilton, Courtesy of Flowers Gallery
Could you explain this work?
It is from a series of paintings, prints and drawings in which old women are wandering through the metropolitan “deserts" of supermarkets. To me these superstores are wastelands, obviously not in any literal sense, but because they are “non-places” processing humanity through an impersonal wilderness of aisles. These stores may attempt to expunge anything negative with their sleek surfaces and bright, infantile colours, but such brightness and gloss act as foils to some of the solitary or messy shoppers who go through them, figures such as these dishevelled, discarded and elderly figures.
What does this piece deal with?
Solitude, poverty, being on the edges of society, yet a tension between hardship and resilience as my figures pursue their way with their shopping trollies, exhibiting fortitude and determination.
What medium and techniques did you use?
Monoprinting, using oil paint painted on a zinc sheet, printed on Somerset satin paper.
What were the struggles of making it?
Drawing from life in supermarkets was challenging since I had to pretend not to be looking at my subjects. And taking photos was forbidden. Then working from drawings and turning them into new pieces of work (prints in this case) without copying the original was also a challenge. Such “copying” would have made the piece look second-hand and lifeless. Monoprinting is, however, always surprising and, to some extent, out of one's control. You do not know what marks and tones are going to be reproduced until you peel the paper from the plate and so you cannot slavishly copy another piece of work.
What is the purpose behind this work?
To create a memorable, succinct image that economically sums up a human presence and a state of being.