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Sue’s ongoing commitment as a visual artist is to record the more eccentric and often metaphysical dimensions of life in far north Queensland. Humour features predominantly, revealing an underlying interest in metaphoric social observations. The use of animals and the natural world expresses a symbolic and intuitive response to locality. Working across a wide range of mediums Sue delights in the act of experimenting with new materials to research and express her ideas.

From initial studies at the Queensland College of Art where she majored in printmaking Sue has been immersed in the arts as a practicing artist and arts worker. Sue has been extensively involved with North Queensland indigenous artists throughout her career, mentoring and promoting their art in Australia and overseas. After her time with Lockhart River Art Centre as Art Centre manager from 2001 – 2007 she was appointed to write a scoping study funded by Arts Queensland for GhostNets Australia investigating the potential for developing artwork from discarded fishing nets. Subsequently Sue took on the position of Art Director for GhostNets Australia. Assuming this role in 2009 Sue organised workshops in communities in the Torres Strait, Cape York, the Gulf of Carpentaria and in the Northern Territory. As well as being successful in promoting the art from these remote communities the work also tells a broader story about the damage ghost nets inflict on marine life. Public workshops, exhibitions and cross collaborative projects have proven to be effective in raising public awareness of the issue.




> Official Australian video by Defnative > 

> Official Expo 2020 Dubai video >

Artist's Statement

Animals feature in my work as narrators of autobiographical stories. I use them as tools to reflect social mores or to metaphorically express ideas. I am interested in form and gesture to record moments in time. As I make each piece, somewhere throughout the process the essence of the animal is revealed. I find this moment exciting as I can then begin to follow the work to capture a sense of spirit.

I started using marine debris in my art when working as the Art Director for GhostNets Australia in 2009. I’d been workshopping ghost net (abandoned fishing nets) as an art material in indigenous communities and started experimenting with it to see what I could make. I never would have imagined that I’d be making sculpture in this way. I certainly wasn’t a born stitcher, however it seems to have worked its way into my life. Often when people see a sculpture I’ve made the first thing they ask is “what is it made from?” This question begins the wider dialogue about marine debris. To me it doesn’t matter what you make from the material as the message is always getting out there. There’s a real buzz in turning discarded net and rope into something totally different, giving it a new life.

I divide my time between creating my own art work and collaborating with indigenous and non- indigenous artists to facilitate environmental community arts projects, workshops and exhibitions.  There’s something about ghost nets which brings people together. 

Sue Ryan is represented by Martin Browne Contemporary, Sydney 

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