Crochet and embroidery on leaves. On. Leaves.
This is the next installment of 'Curious, Curate, Create', an original Flo & Frank series that I absolutely love. It takes a closer look at the stories of amazing people doing creative things… things like crocheting on leaves! So far, we've profiled a weaver extraordinaire by the name of Maryanne Moodie and a talented painter named Bobbie Burgers. Not only are these women creative wonders, they are also just people. People with interesting insights about never giving up, jumping when the time is right, and making their dreams come true.
Enter Susanna Bauer. She is a German-born artist who has been living in the UK for the past twenty years. She currently lives in Cornwall surrounded by nature, which as you can see is absolutely perfect for the kind of art she creates. I wrote about her for the first time in 2012 and have been keeping a close eye on the evolution of her work ever since. I’ve also been wondering how on earth she does what she does; crochet leaves. One of the most delicate parts of nature becomes the basis of her art as she embroiders her unique ideas onto these leaves.
Not only is Susanna’s work lovely, so is she - and don’t even get me started on her fantastic Bavarian/British accent. I wanted to hear all of her secrets and tricks, but apparently the only trick is being Susanna - working slowly, carefully, and with a delicate hand. You'd think she would be the most patient person in the world, right? Impatience and fragility don't tend to mix well together. That’s why when she said, “I’m a bit impatient”, I laughed hysterically. How can you do work like this AND be impatient?! It seems impossible to me.
As for her inspiration, she finds this everywhere she looks.
"Sometimes an idea comes when I see a particular leaf or I look at a book or I see a shape somewhere," she told me.
"Occasionally, when I don't quite know what comes next, I just tip out some leaves and start moving them around and things happen."
A few of my favorite pieces of Susanna’s involve the delicate and complicated connection between two or more leaves. In fact, much of her work is about connection. We didn’t go into that, so I wanted to add a note she sent me, after we talked, on exactly that:
“The ‘how is it done’ element of my work is a first and immediate connection point for someone who sees my work, but what I find far more interesting is what can happen next - when the work draws a viewer in, slows someone down to look closely at the detail of how it’s made, but also how intricate, delicate and fragile the leaf and nature as a whole really is. And also how fragile we are as human beings, subjected to the tensions and pulls in our connections and relationships – this is where I think the making technique of crochet becomes a nice metaphor as it is all about tension.
For me it’s a new way of having a dialogue with the natural world and opening up a new way of looking at our relationship with it, paying attention to the very small. I have often seen people walking past my work with a quick glance, but then doing a double take, turning back and taking the time to look. And sometimes they walk away with a smile or start a conversation about what it makes them feel, and a connection has been made. And if it makes someone walk a little bit slower and look a little bit closer at what surrounds them, even better… and my work is also a daily reminder for myself to do just that.”
A wonderful reminder for all of us, yes?
Susanna's next venture is her first U.S. showing of her art, something she seems both excited and a little bit nervous about.
"Life has sent me, at certain points, certain opportunities to follow up," she said.
But her nerves won't stop her from taking the leap and embracing the opportunities she's worked hard for, even if she jumps slowly. It's great advice, and something we can all learn from. Do the things that scare you most, because you never know if you will have this opportunity again.