Following Ryan Gander’s stack of fictitious ‘A’ level papers for the future in yesterday’s sequence, we arrive today at a very different piece of paper in Sue Collis’s Twice the Man – a sheet of crumpled A4, exquisitely patinated in platinum leaf. It is a typical Sue Collis gesture – to spend hours labouring over something that ends up looking like it is ready to be thrown away – simultaneously precious and apparently worthless.
Sue enjoys drawing attention to the overlooked aspects of life, however modest, indeed often it seems the more modest the better. She uses precious metals, gemstones, silk, cashmere and rare woods and long, long hours of highly skilled craftsmanship to make trompe l’oeil imitations of rubbish and scrap. As she says: “I guess my guiding principle is to get to a balance between something that is very lovely or very ordinary and then the absolute opposite of that”.
Sue made the first exhibition in our street level gallery at Calton Road, when we opened the space there in 2008. The building was converted from a former nightclub in an old warehouse and had been a construction site for most of the preceding year. Sue’s installation included the apparent detritus of a building project – although closer scrutiny revealed that the screws 'left' in the walls were made of solid gold, their rawl plugs of precious turquoise and coral; splatters on the battered broom in the corner had in fact been set with opals and diamonds, and the white paint spilled on the new wooden floorboards was actually inlaid mother of pearl. The real builders unwittingly spent a few hours trying to wipe them off and half of our early visitors passed by assuming that we hadn’t yet finished installing.
Sue has since contributed to a number of exhibitions at the gallery including the ‘and per se and’ series alongside Richard Forster and Ben Cauchi in the summer of 2017. A few months later her major outdoor commission ‘The Next Big Thing in a Series of Little Things’ was unveiled by the University of Edinburgh – a kind of giant version of our paint spattered floor in inlaid bronze across the expanse of Bristo Square in the centre of the city.