‘This is my life’ – a showcase of the works of Sue Tilley
Location: Forman’s Smokehouse Gallery, Stour Rd, Fish Island, Hackney Wick, London E3 2NT
Transport: Hackney Wick Overground or Stratford; Buses 8, 26, 30, 236, 276, 388, 488
Come & join us for an evening of fine art and fine food.
Exhibition runs until 12th November 2015.
Gallery Opening Times: Thursday & Friday 5pm-9pm, Saturday & Sunday Noon-5pm.
Probably the most recognisable muse in modern British art Sue Tilley has been dubbed the Mona Lisa of the 20th Century. Immortalised on canvas by English portrait painter Lucian Freud, who died in 2011, Tilley features in four of his works.
Sue spent her first 6 years in Paddington where she developed her fascination for the under belly of life as she stared out of the window at drunks and prostitutes. Her parents subsequently moved the family to the Home Counties as they didn’t think the environment was suitable for raising their children. She loved art and after studying A level art went on to train to be an art teacher. When she left college she went to sign on and they enlisted her to work in the dole office where she stayed for 37 years. She moved back to London and embraced the underground night life scene, regularly crawling into work with appalling hangovers. She retained her interest in art, regularly visiting galleries and going to openings. Several of the Young British Artists such as Sam Taylor Wood and the Wilson Twins signed on at her dole office.
Her life was changed when she met renowned performance artist Leigh Bowery in a night club. He was to become her best friend and a huge influence in her life. After he died in 1993 she wrote his biography which has become a cult classic. Bowery introduced her to Lucian Freud. His painting, ‘Benefit Supervisor Sleeping’ went for over £17,000,000 in 2008 which at the time was a world record for a painting by a living artist sold at auction. Earlier this year another canvas,‘Benefit Supervisor Resting’, sold for £36,000,000.
A couple of years ago through a curious string of events Sue started painting again mainly inspired by Portuguese painter Rui Ferreira. He encouraged her creativity and through a strange strings of events, Sue was offered an exhibition at Forman’s Smokehouse Gallery by curator and artist Marty Thornton. At the time, Sue had produced very little work but throughout her life her motto has been to say ‘Yes’ and take opportunities that are offered. She was a little daunted at first but being offered voluntary redundancy from her job this year enabled her to get a studio and to devote herself to producing art. She has never been happier.