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Susan Diamond surrounded by her paintings

Susan Diamond surrounded by her paintings

Shine on, Susan Diamond

For a couple of years, Susan Diamond’s boutique brought a fistful of Chelsea to Kings Road, St Leonards. But nothing stays put for long in the World of Diamond, and lately she’s departed from designing statement pieces for Charles of London’s fashion label in favour of canvas. She is currently preparing to decorate the Dragon Bar with some monumental artworks. Erica Smith visited her home/studio for a sneak preview…

If you ever visited the Susan Diamond boutique, you may well have seen Susan’s work already. She contributed her paintings to group shows with names like Diamond Dawgs and Walk on the Wild Side. Her work does not compromise. The first time I walked into her shop, there was a larger than lifesize painting of a menstruating woman on display, and she produced a magnificent and gory series of life-size portraits of exotic dancers giving birth to plastic dolls. Noel Fielding owns one of them. She has exhibited at cutting edge London Galleries and used punk tac-tics to get attention from the artworld – including delivering a plastic doll baby in a box to Brian Sewell. “I found his contact details in a filofax in the back of a taxi, so we took a personal invitation to his door”.

Susan Diamond is a self-taught painter. “I have always drawn because I’ve been fascinated by fashion since I was a kid, but I only made my first painting in the early ’90s. It was a copy of one of Picasso’s blue period works – a double portrait. I had seen it on a book jacket and wanted a copy for my wall, so I got hold of a canvas and some oil paint and made my own version.” The painting is still on her bedroom wall, and still looks good – you can see the Diamond style in the making.

From the start, Diamond was not afraid of working large. Her first studio was a high-ceilinged and generously proportioned room above a London pub. Above her fireplace is an enormous painting of a single-breasted female smoking a cigarette from this time. There is a defiance about the woman, as if challenging cancer to do its worst. The style is still reminiscent of Picasso.


Susan Diamond – works in progress

Even now, Diamond often works on two giant paintings at a time – laid next to each other on the floor. She has re-visited the smoking woman for the Dragon Bar show (above right), re-creating her at a smaller scale – though the painting is still a generous 90cm x 150cm. She says the painting is a kind of exaggerated self-portrait, as many of her paintings are.

She is still working on a triptych of paintings of a giant woman invading a city. Two of these paintings are shown above left and centre.

Another departure for this exhibition is that the paintings will be accompanied by texts written by Diamond’s partner, Mark Charles. He writes Beat Punk poems that read like lyrics from New York Dolls or Lou Reid songs. Here’s the one that accompanies the painting called Trixie Dirt Train:

Metropolis Black Beast of Burden,
Sulky Ripped Tights So Fucking Wear Them,
Neon Light Sucks Hard Onto The Night,
So Still She Stands Butt Cheeks Tight,
Lip She Bites So Lipstick Bleeds
Lightening Bolt Down On Your Knees,
Satellite City Whips Holes In Your Back
You Scream Out An Echo
Smack Baby Smack… Baby Smack Baby
Smack Baby Smack.

Susan Diamond’s exhibition, Alienate, runs from Wed 25 November through to Wed 9 December at the Dragon Bar, 71 George Street, Hastings TN34 3EE.

Posted 15:42 Wednesday, Nov 11, 2015 In: Visual Arts

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