I am Suzanne McRae. I graduated from the University of Ballarat, Victoria, Australia in 1996 with a Bachelor of Arts Ceramics. Over the next decade I moved into costume and fashion, operating shops and web businesses, sewing for clientele near and far. Most recently I have returned to my beginnings in sculpture and ceramics, coupled with my textile experience, to create pieces which are finding a place in galleries and the homes of people who are transfixed by their character and charm.
The sentimentality and haunting nature of memory is the world I am drawn to. Beautiful things now decrepit, once cherished objects now paused in a parallel place, still existing but really inhabiting a long gone life.
My animals are the anthropomorphic bridge between human and creature, the past and present, and truth or dream. A melancholic yet enticing longing for ornaments our past generations loved, but which seem strange and awkward now, and have miraculously outlived their owners.
The stained and moth eaten fabrics, cracks and threads, shining eyes, all conglomerate to remind me of great grandparents time capsule dining rooms and Victorian grace now disintegrated.
My addiction is trawling through junk, flea markets, people's attics and sheds, anything and anywhere that might yield forgotten treasures. The darkest and dirtiest corners of unused rooms and the most rotten boxes of miscellaneous objects are what make me the happiest. Whether it be French country brocante street markets or a stranger's call to go and see a bag of their great grandmother's fur coats.... the thrill of the chase and the mysterious potential that awaits is always enough to make me drop everything and go on the hunt.
This excitement for observing the unknown has been a throughline since I was a child, forever lifting rocks up to see what surprised thing was underneath and collecting noteworthy bits and bobs to take home for my collections.
My childhood was beautifully in the countryside bush, saving worms from the sun and collecting golden Christmas beetles. I didn’t like school and I just wanted to be at home drawing and playing with my animals.
After I finished secondary school I completed University studying Ceramics, but my real love was beginning to form in costume and fashion. I travelled to Europe in 1995 when I was nineteen and backpacked with my friend through England, Scotland, France, Spain, Italy, Germany. I visited the Victoria & Albert Museum in London where I found original clothing from centuries past. I saw the people in the streets in the fashions that were still a whisper in Australia. I was already in love with historical clothing but this experience fuelled the fire. When I returned I invented my own elective costume course in the performing arts department at university so I could study it, because it was not an option.
After university I taught myself to sew, and began my own clothing business focusing on historical and fashion corsetry and costume. My friends and I loved to dress up, and we would sew new ballgowns to wear out every evening, making ourselves as amazing as possible. I stocked many shops in Australia (and opened my own shop) with my clothing, and sold consistently to America, the UK, Japan and more for 15 years. After a time, I began to grow weary of the sewing and producing so much.
I felt a need to return to my beginnings in this new time, to make figurative sculptures in clay but to combine my textile experience with this. I needed to make pieces that were singular and with character, so I began to use the materials that I had always collected. The stained and torn brocades from 1850’s dresses, the old mother of pearl buttons and faded fringing from Victorian armchairs.