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“This is bliss” – The Durham artist who gave up everything

ByPeter Barron

Mar 10, 2019 #Art, #Business

A NORTH-EAST artist who gave up her house and career to pursue a creative dream has found a new place to call home.

Susan Warlock had a successful career as a charity fundraiser for the Children’s Foundation, but she always dreamed of making a living from her passion for art.

A talented painter, illustrator, sculptor, and mosaic artist, Susan left her job and sold her house at the age of 46 to study Fine Art at Newcastle University. She said: “I’d always wanted to become an artist, and I suddenly understood how I could make it happen. Realising it meant selling my house and giving up my job was scary, but there was no doubt in my mind that it was the right thing to do. This was a journey I needed to make.”

Halfway through her studies she was confident enough to set up as a professional artist, and eventually graduated with a first class honours degree in 2009.

Now, at the age of 60, she is living her dream, and has just joined the burgeoning artistic community at Ushaw, in Ushaw Moor.

Susan said: “In 2005 I had just gone through a divorce, and I took a step back and asked: ‘Where do I want to be?’ And the answer was that I wanted to make art full-time.

“I’m so glad I took the risk, because this really is the dream. It’s hard work, but every day is just great.”

The grandmother-of-two steadily built up her business over the next few years, with one of her pieces even being shortlisted for the prestigious Threadneedle Prize.

Her work often explores the Gothic and twisted side of fairy tales, because as she says: “With a name like Warlock, people expect you have to be a little bit dark. I’ve always loved the old, scary versions of fairytales, and it’s great to be able to interpret them through my work.”

Susan has now become one of the first artists to take up residence in the newly-launched Ushaw creative community, and she looks forward to welcoming more of her peers in the future.

“It’s lovely to watch this community forming, and to be part of its early stages. It’s bliss being at Ushaw. I used to work in a cold, draughty studio at Sunderland Bridge, and I can’t believe the difference. I love the light, and the view from my studio. Who wouldn’t be inspired by such a beautiful setting?”