Transition zones

Susan Mabin
Multidisciplinary Visual Artist from New Zealand. Interested in documenting the world using various art forms and found objects from the environment.

Susan brought up a family of four boys, and worked in the health profession as a nurse, before focussing on an art career. Susan obtained a Masters in Professional Creative Practice in 2017. Has exhibited in many solo and group exhibitions and been selected for several national exhibitions since 2014 in New Zealand. AARK in Korpo is her 3rd international residency.
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I am from New Zealand, an island nation that similar to Korpo has a close relationship with the sea.

In my art practice I am interested in working in ‘transition zone’s, for example the area of land between a body of water(sea, lake, river) and human habitation. I document those zones with photography, and video and with the more traditional methods of drawing and painting, to get a sense of the place that I am working in. I also collect things from these zones, both natural materials and manmade materials to make small sculptures. There are a lot of things to discover about humans and their relationship with their environment in these transition zones.

The found object work always has a more environmental undertone. This work comments visually on materials and materiality, and also of what we consume and discard into the environment. It is interesting for me to go to different places in the world and not knowing what I will find, not knowing what I will make, not knowing what stories will emerge, but knowing that by beginning anyway, the found materials will lead the way.

Susan Mabin works exhibitied in her studio at AARK
Susan Mabin and Renja Leino in conversation
Susan Mabin works exhibited in her studio at AARK

Another ongoing project that I continue with at AARK is to make sculptures using my own food packaging. This is fun material and sculptural exploration, making art with ordinary day to day materials, which is also a type of recycling, and a documentation of what packaging I am using and how much is ‘needed’ just to feed this one person!

I first started this project in 2015 when I did an artist residency in a small isolated town in Northern Iceland at the end of a small fjord where there was a lot more rubbish in proportion to the population there and indicative that a lot of it came from the sea and the fishing industry. I then continued with this project in New Zealand mainly in the coastal zone in Hawkes Bay where I was living. This is a densely populated zone with 3 large rivers flowing through it to the sea, where the materials found had either come down the rivers or been discarded by the very people who go and spend time recreating in these zones. Each place offers up something different yet somehow the same.

In February 2023 a cyclone hit Hawkes Bay and there was severe flooding. One of those 3 rivers in Hawkes Bay, come through my studio space. This loss of my studio, equipment and work, has been a catalyst for me to travel again, to get inspiration from different ‘transition zones and cultures’ to continue this work begun in 2015 and to make something new with the experience, finding studio space wherever I go, indoor and in the outdoors.

AARK is my 2nd residency since leaving NZ in January 2024.First I went to the small village Tjørnuvík, in the Faroe Islands for the month of February, where I learnt about Faroe winter weather and isolation. I found plenty of man made materials lying amongst the rocks near the sea to work with, but I was also was very much inspired by the landscape, the sea and the weather all coming together with an elemental wildness on a daily basis.

I came to Korppoo late March and am at AARK til the end of April. I have another residency in Svalbard later in the year. I am finding Korppoo to be a beautiful, and magical place. The way the forest grows, in such a thin layer of soil and moss on top of these beautiful ancient rocks, which, I’m told, are still bouncing back (in geological time), from being released from the weight of the glaciers.

With the AARK residency having the sea on one side and mostly forest, rocks and moss everywhere else, and being close to a boat yard and the coming and going of the vehicle ferry, the work I am creating here, is being influenced by all of these things.

A grid of sixteen black and white landscape sketches pinned to a white wall, each depicting various scenes of trees, rocks, and pathways.
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Wepbage created by Ubuntu Productions (Korpo)
Most of the pictures by Renja Leino  |  Drone and pictures of the studios by Ubuntu Productions (Korpo)