I am primarily a self-taught stitcher, quilter and artist. Southern Africa has had a considerable influence on my life and creativity. I was born in Zambia and then educated in South Africa where I also trained to be a nurse. I soon moved to England; this shift between two very different environments and cultures inspired many of my designs. The stark contrasts between the arid beige and browns of the African bushveld and the lush greens of the rolling hills of Southern England have continued to be a rich source of ideas.
My creative juices began to flow at an early age as I watched my Mom stitch clothes for my sister Wendy and me, and then in classes at High School. Over the years I learned to love the feel and characteristics of the wonderful fabrics and threads that are available to fiber artists. The vibrant colors, their hues, tones and reflectivity are exciting to work with and provide an infinite number of choices.
Primary influences have been the beautiful and colorful work of primitive, craft artists around the world. I am influenced especially by the energy and color of traditional African designs. All these early experiences combined to stir my love of “primitive” arts and crafts and grew into my focus on contemporary folk-art.
In 1989 I moved to Connecticut and subsequently to Tennessee, Utah and Ohio. Each new State presented sharp contrasts and stirred new ideas. With each move I met many new and wonderful quilt enthusiasts and through them added abundantly to my knowledge and creativity. Quilt makers are special people and I thank them for their warmth and companionship.
During the past three years my imagery has been drawn from the wonderful artistry that I have seen in Barcelona, Spain and in Sicily, Italy. I was in Barcelona in spring and flowers were blooming in profusion. Their joyousness and color were the inspiration for the center panel of Earth n’ Twig. At the pottery museum I saw tiles, plates and bowls embellished with an array of birds and animals. The pieces were in many cases several hundred years old. Those images were the inspiration for the birds and “bunnies” in the border of the quilt.
A few years ago I began to layer different fabrics in the backgrounds of my work and quickly became intrigued by the resulting dimensional effects. Pushing those effects further, through various appliqué techniques, produced different results and in no time I was immersed in a wonderland of fabrics with vastly different appearances and feel, in a wide variety of ribbons and threads and in buttons, small copper items and just about anything else that would enhance the piece.
My search for more and more exciting texture has been aided by the gorgeous array of hand-dyed fabrics that pour from the studio of my sister Wendy, as well as the availability of so many commercially available threads, ribbons and other notions.
Sitting quietly with needle and thread is one of my favorite things to be doing and creates within me a restfulness and peace of mind that few other things can offer. My other absorbing passions include engaging with the four, unique, strong and fulfilling personalities that are my young-adult children, tending my flowers and traveling to new and exciting destinations.
-Sue Spargo -
This Exhibit Sponsored by: Bloomin’ Dozen 12 x 12 Group and Glenys Baker