As a child, Su watched in fascination the animals, insects and birds around her. She adored wildlife and also thoroughly enjoyed drawing. Throughout the following years, her love of art and her concern for her fellow creatures has been unceasing.
Wherever Su has travelled she has never been far from four-legged or feathered friends. From an early age, she would rescue and care for stray, sick or injured wildlife: animals, birds and reptiles. The study of wildlife behaviour and caring for animals in order for them to be reintroduced back into the wild, has given her much pleasure. Su's wish, is that in some small way she has been able to reciprocate.
In 1974, at the age of nineteen, Su noticed a small advertisement in a Nature magazine. The advertisement contained information regarding the whaling industry and was warning that through excessive hunting, certain species of whales were on the verge of extinction. Horrified with the senseless and brutal manner in which these intelligent gentle giants of the oceans were being killed, Su contacted the newly formed group called 'Greenpeace' and so began her journey into conservation.
In 1977, Friends of the Earth opened an office in Dorset. Having studied Secretarial and Business Studies at college, Su offered her services and worked for the group on a voluntary basis, spending much of her free time with them. She became Wildlife Coordinator and her duties included: research, writing articles for the press and local magazines and helping to organise meetings, events and rallies. Becoming increasingly concerned about the environment and animal welfare, Su learned a great deal as she typed letters and reports covering a wide variety of subjects including: factory farming, intensive agricultural practices, recycling, nuclear power and climate change.
Shortly after reading 'The Last Great Wild Beast' Show, written by Bill Jordan, an RSPCA Chief Wildlife Officer and Veterinary Surgeon, Su also became actively involved in the protest against the use of 'wildlife in entertainment' and 'traditional' zoos.
With many like-minded people, Su still believes that such places provide little or no educational value, displaying only examples of extreme stress and suffering. Totally dedicated to the welfare and preservation of all forms of wildlife - Su continues to work for and support many wildlife conservation and environmental groups.
Katie and Su - Cottage in Dorset
In 1980, Su was delighted when her wish to move to the country-side with her daughter Katie became a reality. She has since spent many blissful hours walking through woods and across meadows. On many occasions she has found herself in the company of various forms of wildlife including: deer, hares, birds and voles - sometimes these precious encounters have been at such close quarters that she has hardly dared to breathe.
On one particular occasion, whilst sitting in the woods, Su saw a stoat moving her family from one den to another. The stoat, so preoccupied with her duties, failed to notice Su's presence and continued to carry each kitten too and fro in front of her. On another occasion, as Su sat at the foot of a huge old beech tree, a group of 4-5 fallow deer wandered into the clearing yards in front of her and after noting her presence, to her amazement, continued grazing. Precious moments that she will always treasure.
In her spare time, Su would also draw the plants and animals around her. Sketching and studying her surroundings; she has always enjoyed using as reference the items collected whilst out walking. Feathers, leaves, discarded egg shells, skulls and bones are all included on her 'nature-table'.
Self-taught and working from home, Su entered a Dorset Art Magazine art competition in 1989, and was awarded First Prize for her 'Dandie Dinmont Terrier' pencil drawing. Concentrating on painting Wildlife and Pet Portraits, a year later she exhibited her work alongside many well known artists at the Mall Galleries in London, as well as galleries in the South. During 1989, Su also moved to the Larmer Tree Gardens in the village of Tollard Royal, Wiltshire, and began to establish her reputation as a self-employed artist. The Larmer Tree Victorian Gardens, created by General Pitt Rivers in 1880, contain a wonderful collection of ornate buildings, majestic trees and intimate arbours. Situated in the middle of Cranborne Chase and surrounded by woodland walks and stunning scenery, Su has always felt very privileged at being able to live and work in such beautiful surroundings.
After working as a self-taught artist for a number of years, Su was delighted when, in 1994, she was accepted on a Natural History Illustration course at Bournemouth and Poole College of Art and Design. Whenever possible during the course, Su would incorporate her concern for endangered species within her artwork, and in 1998 she graduated with an HND qualification in 'Natural History Illustration'.
Whilst at college Su practised using various mediums and different artistic approaches to painting. Life drawing lessons in particular gave her the confidence to express herself more freely, and is, she believes, an important exercise in the process of learning to draw.
Lectures on the History of Art, reading about the lives, travels and techniques of the old masters, as well as learning about modern day artists, opened a whole new world to her. The work of Constable, Monet, H.H. La Thangue and Durer are just a few of her favourites and she also very much admires the work of the internationally renowned wildlife artists: Ray Harris Ching, Robert Bateman and Carl Brenders.
Su's love of nature is reflected in her artwork; her choice of subjects is varied and her paintings and fine art prints can be found in private collections throughout the U.K, United States, Indonesia, Saudia Arabia, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Africa and Sweden.
Capturing the character of each subject and using a variety of media including oil, pastel, pencil and gouache, her illustrations are also available as greetings cards and fine art prints.
Saving the Whale
In 2002, Su and her fiance Brian were married on safari, in South Africa. In KwaZulu-Natal they saw Leatherback turtles, and in Hermanus, Su finally saw her very first whale. After 29 years of campaigning and promoting the conservation of whales; to actually see Southern right whales breaching, spy-hopping and lob-tailing in their natural habitat, close to the shore - was an experience she will never forget.
In 2003, Su invested in her own Fine Art Printer and soon after, she learned that Birute Galdikas, founder of the Orangutan Foundation, and a lady whom she greatly admired and had supported for many years; was giving a lecture at the London Zoological Society. Su booked her tickets for the event and was delighted to receive a call from the Orangutan Foundation requesting permission to use her 'Baby Orang' drawing for the invitations. Thinking that life could not get any better; Su was then invited by the Orangutan Foundation to display her artwork, her new fine art prints and greetings cards at the Zoological Society seminar. The evening was a very special event and, to top it off Su met Birute and was able to give her a fine art print of her 'Baby Orangutan' artwork.
Su's love of wildlife extends to all creatures 'great and small' and in 1996 she became a member of the Dorset Bat Group. Since then she has conducted bat surveys and counts for the Bat Conservation Trust, Dorset Wildlife Trust and the Vincent Wildlife Trust. Having been interested in bat welfare for so many years, Su became a Registered Bat Rescuer & Carer in 2003.
In 2005, Su converted her little Larmer Tree home into her 'Studio' and 'Larmer Tree Gallery'. During the following years her business expanded: her work consisting of commissions, portraying wildlife, running her gallery, website, printing her artwork and unbeknowst to her, she was also becoming well-known further afield.
Having always dreamed of illustrating a natural history book, Su was delighted when in 2006 she was invited to illustrate a book on Wolf Conservation written by Dr. Marco Musiani, a Professor at Calgary University, Canada. For the following 19 months she worked closely with the author and Denise Taylor from the UK Wolf Conservation Trust. For Su to be given the opportunity to sketch, draw and be with wolves at such close quarters; whilst also working to help keep wolves in the wild; was a super and unforgettable experience.
Two books containing Su's artwork: 'A New Era for Wolves and People' and The 'World of Wolves', were published in October 2009 and 2010, and launched at the UK Wolf Conservation Trust in Reading.
During November 2008, the Editor of the 'Artists and Illustrators' magazine contacted Su inviting her to describe her journey into the world of printing. Her article on the production of her Fine Art Prints and Greetings Cards was published in December 2008.
A week after submitting her article, Su was then invited to write a feature about her life as a 'Pet Portrait Artist' which was subsequently published in the 'Artists and Illustrators' - March 2009.
In September 2009, Su was also delighted to be signed with the Wildlife Art Company; established by Mark Cawardine and Rachel Ashton. Mark Carwardine is the world renowned BBC zoologist, photographer and author. The Wildlife Art Company - a natural history agency for Wildlife Art.
Sadly, during this period both Su's parents became seriously ill and as her parents were in need of full-time care; commissions had to be cancelled, all artwork was put on-hold and her Larmer Tree Studio door was temporarily closed.
During this period Su learned that the BBC was holding its first ever 'Wildlife Artist of the Year' competition and entered a couple of artworks. Months later she received the splendid news that her pastel portrait: 'Wolf Study', had been selected, and that she was a Finalist for the 'BBC Wildlife Artist of the Year!'
Larmer Tree Studio is once again open and Su is now catching up with artworks and ideas that have been on-hold for the past few years. She is also delighted to have recently been accepted as a Signature Member of 'Artists for Conservation'; a leading artist group supporting the environment, protecting species and wild places.
If you are in the area please feel free to pop by and say Hi, and don't forget to keep a watchful eye on her on-line gallery!