artist spotlight
Susie Olczak

share your creative practice:
in conversation with Susie Olczak

What does it mean to you to join the North Lands Creative network and be part of building a community for glass?

 

Joining the community at Northlands is a really exciting chance for me to meet some of the best makers with regard to glass as a material, to learn from them and to connect.

 

Tell us about your work. What influences translate into your art practice?

 

My work is interested in the idea of adaptation. I consider the way we intuitively stack, tie and slot materials together around us and the way that nature creeps back into urban space. It is about the perception of geometry, pattern, and light while moving through transitory spaces.

 

Has this changed the way you approach your work?

 

I try to work in a more sustainable way these days. I work in materials that can be reconfigured and constantly allow them to evolve into new works as much as possible. I use more permanent materials when the work has a long-term home.

 

What initially captured your imagination about glass?

 

I have mostly used sheet glass and neon. Recently I learnt how to make a glass cast and really fell in love with the material. I love neon as it allows for light to be shaped and glass generally because of the qualities it has with regard to natural light.

 

What’s the significance of the handmade to you?

 

I think we can connect with it in a different way to the machine made. However, I am interested in the way new technology can be combined with the handmade. I think it has to do with the haptic. It’s important to be connected with materials and the world around.

 

What was your route to becoming an artist?

 

I studied at the Glasgow School of Art in the sculpture department in 2006, then worked as an artist for seven years. In 2017 I started a masters as the Royal College of Art and graduated from there in 2019.  It feels like a calling rather than a choice.

Fragment of a melting world

What is your chosen medium and what are your techniques?

 

I work in a range of different mediums and processes and I love to combine materials together. I’m interested in these unusual combinations for example submerging neon into water or having glass support the weight of a heavier material.

 

How would you describe your work and where do you think it fits within the sphere of contemporary glass?

 

I would describe my work as sculpture more generally as I use such a range of materials. Glass is a key material running through my practice and I continue to explore different ways of working with it.

 

Tell us a bit about your process and what environment you like to work in?

 

I work in a studio in London and also use a makers space locally. I’m about to relocate to Gloucestershire to start a practice-based PhD. I create work in a range of different settings and for a range of places.

 

Who do you look up to when it comes to aesthetics?

 

I love minimalism and work that is adventurous with regard to material use. I am inspired by the neon work of Cerith Wynn Evans and the cast glass work of Josh Kerley and Heike Brachlow. I love the sculptural work of Isa Genzken.

 

What currently inspires you and which other artists do you admire and why?

 

I’m currently most inspired by the natural world. I think we’ve all become more attuned to it during lockdown. I really admire artists who persevere and who keep to their true selves like Phyllida Barlow.

 

How are you experiencing the Covid-19 pandemic in your country?

 

To what extent has your everyday life as an artist changed in lockdown? It changed a lot for me, I couldn’t access my studio so I had to adapt to working from home. I set up a home studio and made small print-based works, collages and drawings to plan out future sculptures.

Susie Olczak

Susie Olczak is a multidisciplinary artist. Her work focuses on the idea of adaptation. It is about the perception of geometry, pattern, and light while moving through transitory spaces.

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