Susie Marcroft is an inspiring artist who works across installation and ceramics. Her artworks explore the abstract notions of consciousness and empathy that reject reductionist paradigms. Through her work Susie shows us an alternative ethics, one that preferences our focus on care (tending to each other and holding space) rather than economics.

Having moved back to her familial roots, she opened up Mudwood Studio in Heathcote, just two years prior to the pandemic. Once she completed her Fine Arts Honours degree, Susie was looking for a pathway to connect her art to an appreciative audience. This is an age old conundrum and challenge for artists, developing their creative practice into a sustainable living. There are a few options. One could begin to pound the pavement, searching for a commercial gallery to represent them, or continue to study and develop an academic career which often means taking sabbaticals to complete artistic projects. One could set themselves up as an independent artist who flits from one creative project to the next, wrangling grant applications and waiting with bated breath for the money to flow. Or, you can open your own gallery space and bravely represent your artwork yourself, as Susie has done.

Photos by Leon Schoots Photography, eclectic mix of installation, gallery and store.

Susie Marcroft first opened her gallery space in Kyogle in northern NSW but was considering returning to Mt Macedon where she grew up. After a long search including Talbot, Kyneton, Castlemaine, Echuca and many other tiny towns in the region, she settled on the wine region of Heathcote. She found the perfect shop front with a residence in the back and a large window facing the street, where she could experiment with revolving installations to surprise and delight passers-by. Susie has received lots of positive feedback about her creative window tableaux’s, as she likes to call them. People never know what to expect and activating the window with new ideas and propositions aim to connect, uplift and keep up a positive vibe.

As well as Susie’s figurative ceramics and partner Michael Scott’s paintings, Mudwood Studio showcases local and regional artists, artisans and makers. With regular visiting artist exhibitions, Mudwood Studio keeps changing and evolving to encourage people to return and seek out new artworks, products and stories. The gallery sells an eclectic range of textiles, homewares, gifts, paintings, prints and sculptures.

The pandemic has proven difficult for artists and makers to keep the momentum of making and exhibiting in safe and caring spaces. Mudwood Studio is slowly emerging back, opening on Saturdays for now, however there are plans to open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays again soon. Susie has seen positives emerge from the forced lockdowns with reinvigorated connections with community. Mudwood Studio has become a nexus for people in town to meet, talk and reconnect. It is a platform for people to find each other again, through little gatherings and collaborative work days.

Mudwood recently opened the exhibition Quadrumiki – Fisherman of the Soul, a series of photographic works by photographer Robert Marnika.

The Quadrumiki cycle is a typical example of Robert Marnika’s complex artistic quest. He is a photographer from Zadar (Croatia) who has lived in Bologna (Italy) for more than 20 years and recently he has moved to Heathcote. He has taught photography in Italy and Croatia and has won several important Italian and international photography prizes. Intense symbolism, combined with a special post-processing technique, transforms these photographs into a painterly aesthetic.

Quadrumiki is set in an imaginary universal anywhere, as universal is the condition of the portrayed fisherman, symbol of modern mankind. A man is searching for something, alone, and he walks. He is extremely small with respect to the dark yet dazzling context in which the photographer has set him. He might seem almost crushed by it, being so tiny and marginal, but the fisherman moves forward instead, sometimes resolute, sometimes hesitant, towards the unknown or, possibly, towards a brighter future.

This exhibition embodies the ethos of Mudwood Studios as Susie works to hold a space to uplift our spirits as we emerge from a time of uncertainty.

Images from the Quadrumiki – Fisherman of the Soul series by Robert Manika, courtesy of the artist, now showing at Mudwood Studios.

This exhibition will be showing for the next few months and Susie encourages you to visit her nurturing space to browse, connect and be inspired.

Follow Susie Marcroft on Instagram @mudwoodstudio

Mudwood Studio 99 High St, Heathcote VIC 3523