Shropshire Star

Works of art from strokes of genius: what it's like to be an abstract artist

Their brushstrokes are guided by intuition, creating vibrant art work full of eye-catching colours and textures.

Susie Davis and Emma Sherry are holding an exhibition at the Gateway Gallery in Shrewsbury

Shropshire artists Emma Sherry and Susie Davis both enjoy the unpredictability and freedom of abstract painting.

They are joining forces to showcase their work in a joint exhibition at Shrewsbury's Gateway Gallery.

"Although our artwork looks very different, our approach to art is very similar in that we both paint intuitively using acrylic and mixed-media, and our paintings have a lot of layers and textural detail," says Susie.

Last year, some of Emma and Susie's abstract work was featured as part of the gallery's Dazzle open showcase.

It proved so popular with visitors that they have been invited back to the venue to hold their own exhibition, which will run from from February 24 until March 24.

A published writer and fiction editor for most of her life, Susie, who lives in Craven Arms, discovered she had a passion for painting 10 years ago.

"It's an addiction. Once you've got the bug, you've got to keep painting," she tells Weekend.

Susie started exploring abstract work two years ago and enjoyed the sense of freedom it gave her.

"I started painting landscapes but I got bored with that and found myself drawn more and more to abstract.

"What I like about abstract is that it feels liberating and exciting - you don't know what's going to happen," she explains.

"I get inspired by looking at other people's abstract art and I get inspired by the process. With landscapes, you stick with certain colours, but with abstract I use more vivid colours."

Susie began exploring abstract art two years ago

Around 15 of Susie's paintings will feature in the joint exhibition and she says she is looking forward to showing her work.

“Both Emma and I are delighted to have been invited back to the Gateway Gallery to exhibit more of our abstract artwork," she tells Weekend.

"To be able to show contemporary art work locally is a really good opportunity and I'm excited about it."

Emma, who lives in Oswestry, started her art career as a graphic designer after completing her degree in Cheltenham

"Growing up on a farm in Shropshire and being surrounded by self-employed entrepreneurs making their own commerce in such a rural county, there was no question I would one day set up my own design company.

"After a few jobs as a designer I took the plunge and my design company grew exponentially, expanding into more technical areas and eventually after a few years I found myself running a large website and software development company in Bristol and barely doing anything creative.

"I loved running a business however when I had my son five years ago I saw it as an opportunity to get back to my creative roots and then started my career as a fine artist.

"Two years ago we moved back to Shropshire and I have a quirky little art studio in Oswestry and am lucky to be part of a fantastic art community there."

"I love the freedom of expression and individuality you get from painting. And being completely honest I really don’t miss having to paint to a brief or answer to a client. I paint solely for myself and it is me viewers will see in every painting I produce."

Her work often features highly-contrasting colours to create a sense of movement and energy.

Emma with one of her pieces of art work

"As well as abstract artwork I paint still life and architectural landscapes but abstract is what I really adore.

"Abstract allows the unexpected to happen, it’s intuitive so when you look at an abstract painting I feel it is the artist talking directly to you.

"I always include collage in my work as I find it adds depth and helps to keep the painting fluid - sticking a great big piece of paper or magazine over something you’ve painting stops you from becoming precious about it keeping it’s natural fluidity.

"My pieces are colourful and intuitively abstract using collage and mixed media such as inks, acrylic paint, pen, spray paint and oil pastels."

Inspiration for Emma can come from absolutely anywhere, and she says once a creative spark flares she need to pick up a brush.

"My paintings are extremely colourful and I think a lot of that comes from my personality but also from my travels and my year spent in Brazil teaching English and working in a crèche for disadvantaged children. Brazil is just so colourful, from the houses and scenery, to the people and the music.

"I spent quite a bit of time in the summers as a teen staying with Spanish pen-friends in Spain and was fascinated by the urban graffiti and layer upon layer of fiesta and concert posters plastered everywhere - not something I ever saw on a hedge in a field in Shropshire. That has definitely influenced my love of layering and collage in my work."

The Gateway Gallery in Chester Street has garnered a reputation for showcasing contemporary works and providing an ideal space for artists to promote their art in a central location.

Chairman Stefan Chabluk said "Susie and Emma exhibited in our recent Dazzle exhibition, their abstract artwork was really well received so we are very excited for them to return and show us all some more of their work."

There will be a private view of the Ebb & Flow exhibition on Thursday, March 23, where visitors will get the opportunity to meet the artists.

"Visitors to the Ebb & Flow exhibition will see a vibrant display of intuitive abstract pieces which I hope will make them smile," says Emma.

*For more information about the private view, email

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