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#70People70years - Sue Prince OBE DL

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Sue Prince OBE DL – folk artist

Artist Sue Prince lives on a Peak District organic beef farm. She has championed farm tourism, illustrated books, specialises in community folk art and is a member of Peak District Artisans. Sue is a Deputy Lieutenant for Staffordshire. She was awarded an OBE for her work with agriculture and tourism in the Midlands from 2001 to 2009. Sue is a former member of the Peak District National Park Authority.

She says: "I’m a contemporary folk artist using hand-made egg tempera, I tell stories about people and their places, celebrating rural life and commenting on society. In our digital world every image has the same importance; I’m interested in reasserting the weighting of meaningful events and ideas by marking them in an ancient way."

Sue's folk art paintings are created on cotton canvas or linen and real gesso (chalk and rabbit skin glue) or acrylic gesso, with a very limited palate of natural earth pigments and indigo. She grinds the pigments and uses local eggs to create works with integrity.

"Having always been an illustrator for others, I visited Sweden in 2004 and there I discovered my own voice; I found a form of Swedish folk art (bonad painting) that had existed from 1740 to 1850 when it died out due to commercial competition from newly industrialised paper production. I developed this form and returned with it to Sweden where I was asked to teach it to Swedish people.  So for 11 years I ran classes every summer. We have now revived it in its native place.

"I specialise in community folk art projects, enabling the people of a place to tell its story, whilst up-skilling volunteers and building community cohesion and confidence. It’s a truly joyous experience."

One of Sue's most recent community art projects can be seen at Bamford. Her community paintings include Alstonefield, Ashbourne and Leek (based on the story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight).

"Looking out of the window, every eyeful is a possible painting, every blink merits recording."

Sue Prince (image courtesy of David Cudworth)

Sue says: "The Peak District is an absolutely stupendous, arresting landscape of extraordinary quality. There are patterns everywhere – patterns in wall, in trees, in sunlight on hillsides – the interaction between light and landform and lines. It’s a very graphic landscape. Today it's misty and moody but looking out I can see a shape I’ve not seen before sitting there in two-dimensions - I find it very moving."

During 2020, Sue painted a record of her experience of the COVID-19 pandemic, which she posted daily on social media, and collected together into a book: The Isolation Chronicles.


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