Artist Spotlight: Sue Lawty

Meet the Maker

A site specific piece always has that special quality and gives meaning to a space. One of my favourite examples is in the lobby at Haymarket Hotel, where Sue Lawty’s 22 foot long landscape artwork ‘Order’ resides...

I think carefully about the placement of all artwork in the spaces we design. Our most recent hotels are new-builds and whilst I have a good idea of where everything is going prior to installation, there’s always some shifting about which creates a sense of surprise and intrigue.

A site specific piece always has that special quality and gives meaning to a space. One of my favourite examples is in the lobby at Haymarket Hotel, where Sue Lawty’s 22 foot long landscape artwork ‘Order’ resides.

Made up of hundreds of small stones woven across the wall, they accentuate the length of the room. Each stone is worn by the rhythm of the tides. Each delicate piece has its own story, washed and moulded by the sea. Collectively they resemble a pixelated cloth. This is a celebration of the natural world. Lawty says her work is defined ‘as much by absence as presence’. In juxtaposition with our stainless steel Tony Cragg sculpture, you could not find two more different pieces of art, but I feel they work in harmony together.

Lawty’s work is rooted in an emotional, spiritual and physical engagement with the land. Subtleties of material and construction are explored intuitively and meticulously to build particular textual languages. She explores ideas of individuality and universality. For example, a single thread within a piece of cloth or a single stone on a beach formed from millions of stones. Through her work, she encourages the viewer to notice the subtlest of nuances present in our world.

Smaller compositions by Lawty draw you further into the hotel and create a link between the lobby and other spaces.

Lawty is a keen fell runner and has travelled extensively, experiencing the arid vastness of the Tibetan Plateau, the acrid smells of the earth in Iceland and the ancient red rock of Australia. Her work is rooted in these journeys and in her emotional and physical engagement with the land. Her process of creating is slow, meditative and meticulous. Lawty kept a blog with her ‘Artist In Residency’ at the V&A Museum. It gives you an interesting insight into her thoughts and processes with wonderful images of her work, her travels, her sketches and references.

Here is an excerpt from the blog about how Lawty discovered weaving:

“At art school in Leeds in the mid 70’s, I followed a degree in Furniture Design. Unn was then a part-time tutor on the Fine Art course. She ran a textile studio which happened to be opposite our design studio. The room housed half a dozen vertical tapestry looms and a handful of students working away on various projects. One loom carried Unn’s current tapestry – a detailed semi abstract dreamlike composition in deep blues as I recall. This artist taught by example, and in so doing provided a very rich learning environment of sketchbooks, samples, personal art books and exhibition catalogues – indeed an ‘artist in residence’ before the phrase ever became commonplace. The atmosphere in the room was one of very real creative charge. I was on the outside, looking in – yearning to be involved in this world. An invitation from Unn to step inside, and my life changed (though I didn’t recognise it at the time). A visual melee of rich, enticing colour, earthy smells of strings and twines, intriguing posters and conversation – I soaked it all in. I could almost taste the excitement. And when a loom became free and I was to feel firsthand the twangy, taught parallel lines of my own linen warp and hear the rhythmic thud thud of beating down of the weft – I knew I had arrived. Halfway through my final year, whilst I still had use of the college workshops, Unn suggested I made a loom. This I did, copying the Scandinavian design…”

Join us at Haymarket Hotel on November 15th for our Artist In Conversation with Sue Lawty and Willow Kemp event. For more information and tickets, click here.