Susan Merrick has been working in both Wandsworth and Aldershot with several Artists and organisations over the last 2 years running her project, Statements in Semaphore. This exhibition is an opportunity to see some of the work produced by the Artist and to talk to her about the work and the issues raised.
Statements in Semaphore began life as part of a residency with the National Archives where Susan created a filmed performance of literal semaphore signals from the roof of the National Archive building in Kew, hence the name! Susan made this work in response to the voices of the suffragette prisoners, and other women, that were ‘hidden’ in the archives. She wanted to make these visible, by performing them in semaphore from the roof!
The project has since grown and achieved funding from Arts Council England for both 2017 and 2018. Susan is interested in using her art practice to respond to historical and contemporary issues faced by women, and their lack of ‘voice’ or the ‘hidden’ voices in social debate. Susan wants to not only use archival and written resources as her research, but she wants to access contemporary dialogue with those women who are most often not heard. This is achieved by Susan setting up situations where conversations in safe spaces can happen, usually with a creative element, an art workshop for example. Working with organisations that support ‘hidden’ women, Statements in Semaphore is a project using socially engaged research to invoke conversations, debate and research around women’s voices. During 2018 at Platform 1 Gallery Susan has worked with Artist Melissa Mostyn and the organisation Deaf Hope – an organisation supporting Deaf women who are survivors of domestic violence. The work you see in the exhibition is a mixture of documentary pieces from the project, and pieces made in response to the many issues raised.
As a professional Sign Language Interpreter, ideas of power and language remain key to Susan’s practice and her interest in women’s rights, class, and feminism fuel her work and it’s direction. Visual language also plays a major role in her practice with semaphore signals, sign language and ‘access’ providing the material for many of her works.
Susan has an MA (Fine Art) from UCA Farnham, has worked with the National Archives, FiLiA, Floating Island Gallery, Division of Labour Gallery and Kunsthal 45 in the Netherlands (with Angela Alexander Lloyd), she was a lead Artist for LADA DIY 14 and had her film ‘Yesterday’ in the NOA 15 Gallery. Susan has recieved ACE Artist Grants for both 2017 and 2018.
Originally from near Hull Susan now lives with her family in Aldershot, Hampshire.
Melissa Mostyn has enjoyed a portfolio career as an artist, writer and film-maker for over twenty years, adopting a variety of roles for Shape, Maverick Television, Disability Arts Online, Deafinitely Theatre, Architecture Week SouthEast, Tate and V&A.
Before having children, for five years Melissa led a groundbreaking Deaf visual art project, Salon, funded by Arts Council England and the Esme Fairbairn Foundation, and had journalism published in The Independent, Esquire and Vogue.
Since becoming a parent Melissa has committed herself to empowering others through her work, particularly Deaf women. She has presented in BSL for DeafHope, Women’s Aid, NHS Safeguarding and the British Society for Mental Health and Deafness, and published an e-book, My Daughter and I.
Melissa’s last film, listen, even when your heart is crying (2014), was Official Selection for Aesthetica Short Film Festival 2015 and Best Documentary nominee in the CINEDEAF Awards 2015.