Sue Brown explains how combining her printmaking skills with enamelling to produce exciting new work.

Sue Brown left Bristol Polytechnic in 1980 with a degree in Fine Art specializing in intaglio printmaking. After years in the wilderness teaching art and drama in a senior school, working for an estate agent and managing a Body Shop, Sue settled down to raising a family and rekindling her artistic practice. 1998 found her developing a self employed career as a printmaker specialising in collagraphs and in 2000 Sue was encouraged by having work selected for the National Printmaking Exhibition the RWA annual Printmaking Exhibition.


A book made by Sue Brown to reflect her experiences while researching in the Entomology Department at the Museum of Natural History. Steel, process and jewellery enamels. Each page is 20 x 15cm.

As a printmaker Sue has shown in numerous open exhibitions, has participated at Art in Action and is represented by galleries around Britain. Particularly known for bird images using rich textural collagraph printmaking techniques and mixed media sketchbooks, Sue is constantly inspired by the natural world and excited by thepracticalities of printmaking.


So why is she appearing in the BSoE magazine? In 2009 Sue embarked on the Multidisciplinary MA at the University of the West of England, formerly Bristol Polytechnic and the same site that Sue studied at for her first degree. As part of the introductory workshops MA students spent a day enamelling and being introduced to the possibilities of screen printed transfers and stencilling techniques.


Detail from Sue Brown’s enamelled book. Click to see more detail, especially the delicacy of the printing.

For Sue this was an interesting development to a printmaking practice. She found herself going back to  enamel, absenting herself from the lithograph, laser cutting and letterpress workshops to experiment with scraffito, sifting and screen printed transfers. Excited by the possibilities of using three dimensional shapes and re-purposing ready-made steel objects,  Sue widened her experience of enamelling by embracing metal fabrication techniques such as spot welding, sand blasting and plasma cutting and using them to make surfaces in order to enamel them.

Sue graduated with a distinction in 2012. Her degree show was inspired by the beetles and moths exhibited in the Oxford Natural History Museum where, as part of her research, she accessed entomological collections behind the scenes and sourced the original field notes of collectors.

Sue’s final show consisted of an installation, titled ‘Outside’, comprised of enamelled moths flying around a light bulb together with a sound piece creating the feeling of an inundation of fluttering moths. Sue also produced an enamelled book reflecting the atmosphere of the Oxford Natural History Museum.

Today Sue finds herself balancing her printmaking practice with enamelling. The practice of building up enamel surfaces by combining drawing and transferred images mirrors the way Sue works in her sketch books and gives her the opportunity to make objects. For Sue this opens up the exciting prospect of building a new market for her images; she feels at the beginning of a new artistic process and finds it an exhilarating prospect.

Printmaking has always been an in-between activity straddling Fine Art and Craft and not quite understood by the art buying public, but Sue has built up a niche for her prints.

Now in a craft field but not making jewellery she finds herself in another artistic twilight world. Encouraged by the enthusiasm from her existing galleries for her new enamelled work, Sue feels encouraged and supported to continue to explore the versatility of vitreous enamel.

Sue Brown writes about the sculptures below.

The spoons are inspired by our emotional response to the swarms and inundations of insect life. We are inspired and intrigued by insects in their natural habitat, but when we encounter them in our domestic environment we become unnerved. I describe this contradiction using re-purposed ready-made objects, steel fabrication and enamel. The cut out sections in the spoons are a playful take on ‘Moth-eaten’.

The sculpture below is titled ‘Outside’, showing the application of the transfers and the details of the printing.

The moths, representing spirit and the darker side of our feelings, are held in position by spot welding. Glass vessels, steel, process enamel. The dome is 20cm high and the spread of the moths is 30cm.