She’s a leading lady in the recent Fabulous Fashionista’s on channel 4, has a multitude of big shows on and is all over the national press as we speak. We are talking about none other than the magnificent Sue Kreitzman. After being famously bad at art in school, a successful food writer with 27 titles to her name and an avid collector of stuff Kreitzman burst onto the scene as an outsider artist. Sue describes this kind of work as the uncouth visual uttering’s of the people. We talk about outsider art, being fabulous and the many ways of spelling bullshit when I visit her in her beautiful museum like home in East London. Talking to her it becomes clear that this is an artist motivated by her own drives who doesn’t need any approval from the mainstream art word. Her optimism is refreshing and the colour and verve she throws into the world at a prolific rate are something of a multiplication of joy, like the fast growing cells of life. Below is an excerpt of the interview…
LS: When I first met you many years ago you where exactly the same woman we recently saw on Channel 4, the same exuberant and open femme fatale. There has been a lot of talk about age and ageing but do you think there is such a thing as an ageless woman who does not represent any age group?
SK: It’s a very good question and very perceptive actually. I don’t see myself as an old women, I feel like I’m fooling people, I’m not an old lady! I figure I’ll be old when I’m dead. All the other ladies in the programme have got that life force and you’ve either got that or you don’t and we are very lucky to have it. My mother’s early death has had a big impact on me. She killed herself at an early age and I feel terribly sorry for her. As a result I choose life and I do so with great gusto and partly because of her actions. You have to make your life count. Life is endlessly fascinating and I’m just so curious to see where it’s all going. I do believe I’m ageless but I know I’m not immortal.
LS: Your art and attire overflow into each other seamlessly, They are all part of the same visual language, there is a sense of completeness in that. Can you explain how that comes about?
SK: I live art, eat it, dream it, wear it and make it. When I leave the house I can’t bear to leave my art behind so I wear it. It’s not about fashion, I am a living art installation. A lot of people don’t realise this but I don’t make my own clothes someone else does. I collect the fabrics and components and Lauren Shanley creates the garments.
LS: Sometimes works in the outsider arena are dismissed with the argument that the artist was not aware of the reasons behind the works qualities, not conscious of the ideas that make it a good piece. Do you consider a conceptual/intellectual consciousness of importance within an art work?
SK: there is too much conceptual stuff going on, sometimes its all concept and no content. But I think any artist, even the most outsider of outsiders has an idea of why they do what they do. I know why I’m doing what I’m doing.
LS: What about someone like Judith Scott who has downs syndrome and wraps objects up? The art world sort of runs with that…
SK: You picked on a fascinating thing. Is it art? In the eyes of the artist herself she has no concept of it, it’s just what she does. She will just wrap anything.. The stuff is beautiful, to look at and to feel. Its fabulous and it is a phenomenon.
LS: What you are taking out of this work is that its beautiful, that you enjoy touching it and it gives you pleasure. That’s a very pure and simple way of experiencing it. When the critics start breathing meaning into those pieces as statement it gets a little trickier.
SK: How many ways can I spell Bullshit?
LS: You say "beige will kill you" are you trying to save us by colour bombing us Sue?
LS: Finally, a lot of artists are asked to give advice to young artists, the up and coming and art students so I'd like to ask you instead what your advice is for the middle aged artist...
S: Whatever you do, don't take classes. Go back to that place, that feeling that made you draw or make things as a child, find the source to that and unlearn the rest.
Watch Sue Bourne's Fabulous Fashionista's on 4od. The Epiphanies show is on until the 28th of November mon-fri 9 to 5 at the Conference Centre, St Pancras Hospital, 4 St Pancras Way, London NW1 OPE