Contemporary artist Susanna Bauer uses nature itself to turn crochet into sculpture...
Your use of leaves clearly reflects the fragility of nature, but in terms of exploring our relationship with it, why use crochet?
Crochet as a traditional craft can be both functional and decorative, but I seek to transcend these attributes. In my work, crochet becomes sculpture. Combining this method with such a fragile material I try to highlight the delicate nature of human connections, the transient yet enduring beauty of nature, and stories of individual beings.
What kind of textile materials and tools do you use for crocheting on such a small scale?
I create my leaf pieces with very fine hooks, needles and thin cotton threads. By working on a very detailed and small level I try to push crochet to its limits.
At Selvedge we often discuss the therapeutic qualities of working with textiles. What goes through your mind when making?
I have always had an affinity to small and precise work, starting in my childhood when I built tiny landscapes into matchboxes. I find the whole process calming, and its intensity centres me. It begins with being outside collecting leaves, cleaning, sorting, looking closely. Ideas and concepts for individual pieces evolve before the actual making begins, followed by mounting and framing.
Unlike so many other artists who use art to represent nature, you collaborate with it. What’s nature like to work with?
It’s a never-ending source of inspiration. I am in total awe of the intricate details, the colours, textures and compositions that I find every time I’m outside on a walk or in a garden. My studio is filled with leaves and branches and they each come with their very own language and symbolism. By dedicating time to a seemingly impermanent yet so perfectly shaped object, the work becomes a tribute to nature.
What’s up next for you?
Apart from working on commissions I currently have some work in Garden on Orchard, a group exhibition at Muriel Guepin Gallery in New York, and Lemon Street Gallery's 18th Anniversary Exhibition. My work is also part of the Riijswiijk Textile Biennial in the Netherlands, running until 24 September.
Images by Simon Cook, Susanna Bauer and Steve Tanner