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Sue Coe

The good folks at Our Hen House have produced an excellent short film about Sue Coe. Sue describes herself as an artist whose work is reportage. To learn more about her work, go here and here.

Sue Coe: Art of the Animal from Our Hen House on Vimeo.

My first recollection of Sue Coe’s work was during the turbulent Thatcher years of the 1980s, which we appear to be reliving under the present Tory-led coalition government. I recall seeing copies of her ‘How to commit suicide in South Africa’ for sale in Compendium, the Camden Town independent, leftie bookshop beloved but now lost. Then, Sue received controversial coverage in the media for her drawings of the IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands. I did not catch up with her work until I had moved to the USA and saw the exhibit, Porkopolis, in Washington, DC in the late 1980s or early 1990s. I wrote to her then as PETA’s Executive Director expressing admiration for her work and offering any assistance I could. Many years later, I went along to hear her speak in Baltimore when she was a guest lecturer at the local art institute. Her talk was like a breath of fresh air with all its insights, controversies and humour. Afterwards, I introduced myself and we went for coffee. Since then, we’ve become friends and colleagues.

She is the most important living artist in our time. The craft in her work is truly amazing. There is, also, a subtle cleverness in her referencing to the artists and their work that inspires her. I am proud of the fact that Sue was a regular in The Animals’ Agenda magazine I used to publish.

In the film, Sue describes herself as a worm turning over the soil reporting on the world she sees. I like to think of her more as someone who holds up a mirror to society challenging us to consider our stupid ways. But, in doing so, it is done with such an uncompromising vision that is remarkable if disturbingly beautiful.

We’re all the better for seeing the world through Sue Coe’s eyes.

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  1. January 2nd, 2012 at 13:19 | #1

    Many thanks for bringing her work into focus here, Kim. I should’ve heard of her – like anyone else involved in the a.r. movement for any length of time – but there’s always so much visual clutter to get through these days and most of our lives are pretty much wasted in the workplace…. your blog is a real and reliable filter; as is Sue’s visionary way of getting to the essence of obscene practices which (as Bernard Shaw would argue) the ‘common chump’ so rarely seems to see.

  2. January 3rd, 2012 at 07:11 | #2

    Many thanks, John, for your kind comment. Sue Coe’s work is remarkable. And thanks for all that you do, too, for the animals!

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