Introducing our Artist in Residence

Over 2017, Susan Merrick will be FiLiA Artist in Residence (part-time). Funded in part by Arts Council England, she will work across the year to develop work in response to the issues touched upon by FiLiA as an organisation. She will do this through her project Statements in Semaphore. 

Susan is an Artist and Sign language Interpreter interested in language, translation and how Art can explore the connection these have with power and social relations. For more about Susan please visit her website 

Susan Merrick - Artist Image

Susan Merrick - Artist Image


Statements in Semaphore is the title project that I am running through 2017 as my role ‘Artist in Residence’ with FiLiA. The project will take two parts, firstly producing a series of art workshops for women in my local area, and secondly developing a series of my own art work that will be a commentary to and made in response to the year long project. The work produced by the women participants and myself will then be exhibited in London and locally at the end of 2017.


I am passionate about my Art practice being something that engages people and makes conversations happen, but not just with Artists. I want to engage with people who do not normally take part in the Art world and I want that engagement to be my practice.  This project is about just that and it is why I wanted to work with the charity FiLiA over 2017, so instead of being on my own, I will be engaging with other groups of women and my work will come from that.  I will begin by providing workshops for three groups of women in both my local community and in London who receive support from three separate organisations. These workshops will offer the opportunity for the women to create their own art work alongside and with the support of the professional artists. Guided by the same stimuli (that I will provide) each group and myself will discuss the issues that these stimuli touch upon and how we might respond to them.

The organisations that I will be working with are provisionally:

  • Women in Prison, London
  • Domestic Violence Hampshire, The YOU Trust
  • Taking Steps, Basingstoke

The amazing Artists who will be working with me will be:

Through this project I will also be creating my own work. Initially I will continue to develop my photographic work Semaphore Alphabet. Through this work I meet women and photograph them performing a semaphore letter. The series forms several alphabets which have been used so far to display words and phrases in public spaces.  In meeting and photographing the women I also get to speak to these women about themselves, hear their experiences and talk to them about what I am doing.

I hope that this project will start conversations between people in my local communities, it will provide a direct link between the community and the Art using participants from the local area AND it will ensure that they are able to come and see the work themselves when it is shown. Because it is not just about creating this work, it is about access, for women into Art, and for the Art world into the lives of women and women’s experiences.

Through both the workshops and my art practice I will be meeting with and working with local participants as well as artists. Through this I hope to acknowledge and break down a little the frequent barriers between local communities and the Art events that go on within them. I also want to start this residency as I intend to go on, by bringing together women from the local communities that I live and work in, together with Art, specifically women who usually have difficulty accessing such events or art.