Four questions to Maxine Sutton

Four questions to Maxine Sutton

Maxine Sutton was born in London England in 1963. She lives and works in Margate on the Kent coast. She studied Fine Art (Painting) at Ravensbourne College of Art, and Constructed Textiles at the Royal College of Art. Her work is a union between her formal fine art training, where Abstract Expressionism was a huge influence, and earlier childhood experiences of home, craft making and textiles. Tell us your story, why did you become an artist?

My parents traveled and worked overseas a lot when I was small. We lived in India, Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore before coming back home to settle down in England when I was 10.  Those early years of my childhood, the moving about, and going to a lot of different schools, was often chaotic, and so I think drawing and making little environments, was a way of controlling and creating my own world.

I also spent time learning to sew and make things from fabric, with my grandmother, which was a calming and positive experience.  In school, my drawing and painting was encouraged by a couple of teachers, so I went on to art college. I cannot really remember wanting to do anything else.

When you create a new work, how do you go about it? What comes first?

Previous works will inform the direction of new works. I have some self imposed parameters that relate to materials and sustainability. Valuing materials as an antidote to consumerism and using what is to hand is important. So the materials I have around me in the studio (fabric and yarns I have collected or saved) combined with thoughts and questions that have arisen from earlier works, set the direction. And I also keep sketchbooks of notes and drawings that I sometimes refer back to when beginning new work. It can be formal questions about structure, colour and composition, or a more narrative line of enquiry, but usually it is a combination. What can you tell us about your studio, what makes it special to you and how does it influence the way you work?

After a few years of disruption, I am now working in quite a new space which I finished and moved into last year. The sea is in front of me, it is quiet and peaceful with amazing natural light, big skies and Turner’esque sunsets. I feel very fortunate to have the space. The weather is a dynamic influence I think, it is hard to ignore when you live by the coast, it seeps into you. Is there a work of art in your life that has especially impressed you?

I recently saw the Magdelena Abakanowicz show at Tate Modern in London and was completely enthralled. I had seen the ‘Abakans’ in books, but to be in the room with these huge woven sculptural forms was amazing. Technically incredible, but more importantly they have such a huge presence almost like they weren’t made by human hands but emerged out of the landscape. Really epic work, plus it is so important to see women artists finally getting the attention they deserve. Especially for those who follow, to have the knowledge of what women have done. Learn more about the artist: