Susan Merrick

Artist and Interpreter. Power Language Access



I am a multi-disciplinary Artist interested in conversations, language and communication, in questioning whose voices are heard, and in the access and spaces that can challenge or facilitate this.

With a background in BSL/English Interpreting and Sociology I make work, projects and collaborations exploring these themes, utilising a context-based mix of social engagement, live art, public installations, film making, collections and documentation.

Originally from a village near Hull in East Yorkshire I grew up in a small town by the sea to a stay at home older Dad and a full time working Mum. Feminism was part of my upbringing even before I knew the word. As well as being a Northern feminist artist my background is in Sociology and British Sign Language (BSL). I studied both areas at the University of Durham where my dissertation considered ideas of language and labeling in the Deaf community.

I have Interpreted between BSL and English professionally for almost 15 years including 4 years of Performance Interpreting and the use of BSL and visual communication features heavily in my art practice. The power dynamics of being an Interpreter have also been a source for my art practice and I am exploring these through my art performance work.

Research is a huge part of my practice and for the past three years I have been investigating how socially engaged practice can form research. Engaging with people and organisations, audiences, the dialogues that come out of this are not only far more illuminating than research solely being an abstract element of practice, but it also informs further debate, research and potential social change.

Key to my work is: language, it’s use, conversations, the spaces that allow these to happen, the voices that are hidden and how we access these; power and how language affects and is effected by this; and access, how we hear other voices, who hears our own, how Art reaches audiences and how do audiences reach us?

In Sep 2019 I was accepted as an associate Artist with CAS (Chapel Art Studios, Andover).

© 2019 Susan Merrick

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