Sue Bartlett – artist Q&A

This week our featured artist is poet Sue Bartlett.  Sue is a member of Rottingdean Writers Group which has collaborated with Chalk Gallery, Lewes on their exhibition: Farley Farmhouse at Chalk (runs to 17 August). The exhibition is a response to the Chalk artists visit to Farley Farm, ‘Home of the Surrealists’: Lee Miller and Roland Penrose famously visited by Picasso.  Chalk artists produce work which is then given to Rottingdean Writers who create a poem or piece of writing as a response to the artwork. This Saturday, 12 July, there will be a performance by the writers, including Sue Bartlett, at Chalk Gallery, from 2-5pm.

All welcome.

Here’s a selection of some of the artworks inspired by the visit to Farley Farm, and Sue Bartlett’s Q&A below.  See you at Chalk on Saturday, 2pm!

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What are you doing today?
I’m at the Elephant & Castle Open Mic in Lewes with some other Rottingdean Writers. We are story telling and performing poetry.

Describe where you do most of your creative work.

In bed on my iPhone.

What’s the most exciting project you’ve worked on?
Both the Chalk projects. Last year it was inspired by Charleston Farm House, this year it’s Farley Farm House.

It’s a real joy having this crossover in art. They are all such talented artists at Chalk and so diverse. Usually in art galleries your eyes are your dominant sense but the poetry adds another dimension. This presents other possibilities for the viewer/listener. Both forms of art come from an emotional base but by putting them together it expands both somehow, it’s just such an exciting experience, it’s symbiotic.

Also the Sussex Poets Competition which Rottingdean Writers’ initiated last year. The Chalk Gallery were one of the sponsors.

What made you decide to become an artist?/ Writer
I didn’t decide It decided for me, it’s compulsive.

What are you currently working on?
Various poems and humerous memoirs ( I think they’re funny anyway).

What are the key themes in your work?
My inspiration comes from anything I encounter and  I have a very active imagination. I see the humour in everyday things and try to recreate it.

What would you like people to notice about your work?
That it’s truthful and not contrived or pretentious and that the language is rich and beautiful and funny when it’s meant to be.

What attracts you to the medium you work in?
I’m naturally gobby, so I can put down everything I want on paper. It’s cathartic and helps one to communicate.

What equipment could you not do without?
My iPhone, computer and printer.

Who or what inspires you?
So many wonderful poets and writers from Dickens to James Lee Burke , Rumi to Yeats. I have very diverse tastes.

How is your writing effected by living in this area?
There is so much opportunity here to get involved with the whole spectrum of art. Creative people seem to gravitate towards this area.

What’s your favourite thing do to locally?
My writing group Rottingdean Writers. There is no one in this group who is mediocre , the members are an inspiration. We meet twice a month to critique each other’s work and I have seen mine and others work really transform. I also like to visit art galleries, go to concerts, workshops and the theatre. Open Mics too, I love performing.

What’s your favourite gallery (or place to see/experience art)?
The Chalk, because I am so familiar with the artists and their work and there is always movement with new artists coming in. It’s not a large space but it’s used to its best advantage. They also have a waiting list and are very selective of new artists. Art is very personal and one might not always identify with every artist but you know with Chalk it will always be to a high standard.

If you could own one piece of art, what would it be and why?
‘Guernica’ by Picasso. I am very interested in ‘Basque Land’ and it’s history. It’s language is unique no -one knows its route it’s not Indo -European. The bombing of Guernica was such a terrible thing and I see the emotion that is in every part of that painting. That was how Picasso communicated his anger about such an atrocity.

If you could collaborate with one writer from any time, who would it be and why?
Charles Dickens for his character building and humour.

Who do you think is the most underrated writer?
Me of course.

No really I think that poets and writers come in and out of fashion so people may say that this writer or that writer is good or bad but if you identify with them that’s the main thing.

What’s your favourite colour?


Contact Sue Bartlett on

More info on Rottingdean Writers Group can be found here:

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