Q & A with Susan Dayal

by Shivanee Ramlochan, Paper Based Blogger

Two of Susan Dayal’s wire angel designs

Visitors who have wandered around the shop have certainly seen the enchanting wire-art sculptures that hang between bookshelves and behind the counter. These unique treasures are the creations of Susan Dayal, who generously agreed to stop by the blog, and answer a handful of questions on her artistic process.

Thanks for agreeing to be featured, Susan! Tell us a little about your artistic process: what goes into each wire sculpture, and how long does it take you to complete one?

It depends. The little wire angel is a design I came up with about 20 years ago. The design varies slightly from year to year because I am not working with exact measurements. It takes me about 30 – 45 minutes to make one but I usually make about 10 at a time, mass production / conveyer belt style. The larger pieces like masks or full body torsos would take a lot longer. If I haven’t made it before, there is a lot of trial and error and I will take work apart, reuse the wire and make it over. So those can take 20 hours or more, over days or sometimes weeks / months.

Two of the ‘love catcher’ creations in Susan’s collection

When did you make your first piece of wire art? What was the primary source of inspiration for you, working in this medium?

I made my first wire sculpture in 1990. It was a shadow puppet based on the Indonesian shadow puppets. My sculpture lecturer at art school in Dundee, Scotland sent me to a scrap metal yard to look for wires, sheets and meshes of copper, brass and aluminium. I experimented with the material, tying and weaving it together. The inspiration came from playing with the material. More shadow puppets and then masks emerged.

Do you envision yourself working with wire sculpture well into the future? Have you got any exciting projects we can look forward to in 2013?

I still have ideas that I would like to explore through wire. I did some fabric collages / tapestries about 10 years ago and want to pick that up again. I am considering showing a body of photographic work produced between 1990 and 2000. So some or all of those may happen in 2013.

Susan’s wire art is available for purchase at Paper Based. Additionally, you can visit her art blog, Susan Dayal Sculpture, to see further examples of her work, and read more about her artistic experience.

A pair of pieces in Susans ‘flat heart’ collection

Susan’s wire art creations would make splendid Christmas presents for:

  • collectors of sculpture with an original twist (no pun intended!)
  • art enthusiasts seeking to support and proudly display work  by local craftsmen and women;
  • anyone who’d like intricate, conversation-prompting Christmas tree ornaments — no two exactly alike.

Susan with Howie the dog

Susan’s artwork is thematically influenced by fashion, feminism, folklore and the flora and fauna of the natural world. Working exclusively in wire, the technique that she uses to make her sculpture is known locally as wire-bending. Wire-bending is a traditional folk technique used to create elaborate, large-scale, Carnival costumes for the annual Trinidad Carnival. Her work differs from traditional wirebending, in that she does not cover the wire structures but instead considers these 3D wire forms as 3D drawings in space.

Susan has participated in solo and group exhibitions locally, regionally and internationally since 1992.

Images used courtesy of Susan Dayal.