Suzie O’Shea says she isn’t a natural nester. She gasps when she realises she’s been perched in this apartment above View Street for 11 years now.
“One morning I walked up and down View Street saying to the universe, ‘I want to live here’. Within 20 minutes I had contacted the landlord and paid my first week’s rent,” she says.
“I don’t know how any of that happened, especially having enough cash on me to hand over as a rental fee. Because I’m an artist and artists don’t have money.”
Suzie O’Shea makes frocks out of clay… in the most unlikely of places.
Not unlikely in a creative sense – this home provides inspirational fodder at every turn, sandwiched as it is between the art gallery, the cathedral spires, the bohemians below and the birds above.
Unlikely in terms of space. Or lack thereof.
Suzie’s often larger-than-life ceramic dresses are familiar with those who have a penchant for peeping through View Street windows.
There’re made up here, among the twigs and feathers of everyday life.
They’re stored on top of, behind, amongst the flotsam. The loveliest of clutter.
We step sideways and walk gingerly to keep the sculptures safe from bumps and bumbles.
“As a part of the research for my Masters degree I studied Mirka Mora,” Suzie says.
“She had been told by Marcel Marceau that her cluttered environment might devour her.
“Clutter is something that creeps up on you. Initially things are placed in a temporary spot. After a while it grows and then becomes a mountain that is difficult to move, both mentally and physically.
“I am afraid mine is beginning to hamper my movements. I need a new space and I have ‘just the one’ in mind, but I need a miracle to make it happen.”
Suzie is talking about the former Mutual Life building, for sale on the bend of View Point.
Then again, having little room to move has not hampered the work.
“The smallest space I have ever worked in was at TAFE in Bendigo when I was their artist-in-residence,” Suzie says.
“The staff allocated me a table in a corner of the studio. I created some of my best work there, which I attribute to the warm and welcoming environment.”
The same could be said about this space of interconnecting rooms and narrow steps. Past the tiny kitchen, the stairway delivers us straight into Suzie’s bedroom, where treasures abound, mostly of her own making.
“There are a few precious pieces in my space that I have not made,” she says.
“Two of them stand alongside my Woman Who Can Stand on Her Own Two Tits. They are money boxes.
“One helps to fund my swimming habit and the other is for travel. That one is most-often raided.
“I tracked down the lady who made them and she was working in a fish and chip shop in Shepparton. She doesn’t make things anymore.”
Past the bedroom are two front rooms overlooking View Street, the gallery and the poppet head beyond.
Here, Suzie works, listens to music, reads, drinks tea… and other beverages.
Suzie is using a space in the Penfolds Fine Art Gallery across the road as a showroom. Call her on 0488 413 760 to arrange a viewing.
Her next exhibition, Frocking Religious Stuff, will be at The Convent Gallery in Daylesford from November 4 to January 2.
In the meantime, she’s writing a book about her art practice and experiences, called Ceramic Twitt.
And so we leave Suzie O’Shea to her twitterings… hidden in her nest high above View Street.