Clayton, making a radical change in mid-career to become full-time artist, soon saw success with recognition by ‘Britain’s Got Artists’ (2012), and most recently, as ‘Outstanding Visual Artist’ in the York Culture Awards, for her much-admired York Heroes (2017-2018) project.
Clayton’s largest body of work to this date comprises of over 140 portraits of York City football fans. Incredibly these were created in just one year in time to celebrate the club’s centenary in 2022. Clayton embraced the rich, diverse fanbase in a whole plethora of mediums from watercolour to oils, graphite, acrylics and charcoal through to collage.
Those portraits captured the attention of both regional and national media Radio 4 flagship arts and culture programme ‘Front Row’ featured the artist and the project on their show.
The portraits have now been used to create 4 metre permanent art installation in the LNER Community Stadium, home of the Minstermen .
By nature a positive force, Clayton was proud to collaborate with Pocklington Arts Centre, to create largescale portraits to be displayed outside for people to see during lockdown on their daily walk. Seizing an opportunity to make art accessible for all even during our darkest days.
Her commissioned piece the following year saw her capture York’s Covid vaccination centre - a transient structure built for purpose - the resulting painting was titled ‘Tent of Hope’ in recognition of the feeling of the period.
Celebrating diversity , 2015-21 she held an annual exhibition of portraits featuring people who have Down Syndrome. Inspired by her son James, who became her first sitter, Downright Marvellous! (2015) showcased joyous portraits of children who have DS. The final exhibition entitled ‘21’ represented the year, the number of portraits in the show but most significantly that an extra chromosome on number 21 results in Down Syndrome. This work featured the ‘unrepresented and significant’ social presence of adults with Down Syndrome at work and at leisure. Clayton is drawn to the portrait because ‘it insists upon the idea that the more you look at a face, the more you see. Every single aspect – the eyelids, the nostrils, the complexion – reveals the personality and character of every individual person’. Her vision is especially important to represent those who are sometimes socially ‘unseen’.
Influenced by Rembrandt, York artist, William Etty, and more contemporary painters like Jenny Saville and Tim Benson, Clayton enjoys working with dynamic colours to make marks ‘that should not be there but somehow work’. As such, her approach to portraits not merely apprehends the likeness of her subjects, but their inner life too.
Sue also enjoys sharing her passsion for art through workshops and tutored sessions. See website for further details.