Susan Merrick

Artist and Interpreter. Power Language Access

From a hobby/outlet to published Artist!

Art has always been in my life. I still have some of my cartoon images and doodles that I would draw as a child. Sketches of my parents and friends. School projects that would be very image heavy rather than text!

My mum and grandmother always sketched, my brother has restored furniture wonderfully and my beautiful late Cousin Naomi Wise became a qualified Art Therapist the year that she lost her life to Cancer.

Naomi’s 3 sons, my cousins (probably 2nd cousins but that gets too complicated!) are all very creative and talented too so it’s certainly something in our family!

I am a qualified registered Sign Language Interpreter. Another visual and creative line of work. I love my interpreting work and the beauty that Sign Language can be. However in 2007 I developed a repetitive strain injury from interpreting and since then I have had to manage my actual interpreting time very carefully. During my time off work I realised I needed an outlet. Sometimes this was through written reflection, or spoken. But often for me I was drawn back to my art. Initially I used chalks as these were gentle in the recovery of my arms. As I got stronger again and learnt how to manage my interpreting hours I realised that painting, sketching and creating didn’t affect my RSI.

Over the next couple of years I created Art for me, and for gifts to friends. Then in 2012 I decided I wanted to exhibit my work. Starting with Facebook and to those I knew and whom were less frightening, then eventually I had my first physical exhibition in Putney Arts Theatre. Much of my work you can see here on my website in the gallery or on my Facebook page. https://m.facebook.com/SbmArtwork

You may notice that much of it features women and especially pregnant, labouring or breastfeeding women. Since having my own children I have also supported several families as a Birth Doula. Through this privileged role I saw a strength and beauty in women that I had not previously known. It has strengthened my feelings hugely on women’s rights, feminism and questions on societal norms. These issues feature heavily in my artwork because they inspire me so much.

Since then I have gathered momentum and as my interpreting time remains limited I am able to spend many other hours in my week on my art.

Since last year things have really started to take off. I was approached by a wonderful author Starr Meneely, and created illustrations for her book ‘What A Lovely Sound!’ Which was published in December. Since then I have had illustrations published in a second book ‘Blue Jeans’ by the beautifully descriptive author Veronika Robinson.

I have now had several commissions for paintings and sketches, I’ve had cartoons published in the AIMS journal, I’ve exhibited twice more and I’ve also produced some images for charity cards which will be used by AIMS.

Alongside this I was so excited to create the street art last year and see it produced into the gorgeous film by Ashley Meneely and be permitted to use the amazing music by The Glass Child. I felt truly blessed to see how far my art has come. But there is so much more ahead!! I have created more images with Veronika Robinson for a new book, I am working with three more authors on illustrations for their children’s books and I am planning to submit several images this year for use by The Mother Magazine.

I’ve also finally created a small studio space in our home which feels fantastic.

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