Working in a small unit in suburban Wellington, seventy-eight year old Sue Soo paints colourful, feel-good scenes of ballet dancers, animals, and flowers. Art historian Jill Trevelyan says Soo has created ‘an idyllic world where the sun is always shining and the girls and boys go out dancing all day’.
Soo began painting in 1981, following the death of her husband. She says, ‘When you paint you forget your loneliness. You can cry for the moon, but the moon won’t come down. You have to have something to do, then you forget yourself.’
Soo paints on canvas and card, cardboard boxes and rice sacks. While she goes through phases of painting different subjects, she always comes back to ballerinas.
When she is travelling, Trevelyan sends Soo postcards. Trevelyan says, ‘By the time I arrive home she’ll have painted a “copy” ready to show me … I recently sent a postcard of people punting down the Avon and Sue transformed the scene into a tropical landscape with Chinese pagodas on the riverbank.’