Spalding artist in prestigious competition

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Ceramic animal sculptor Susan Page lives at home in Spalding with one solitary pet dog.

But her life has been filled with animals of all kinds, both real and the sculptures she creates.

One of these, of a pair of spotted hyenas and called Who Says We Are Not Beautiful, has earned Susan a place as a finalist in the prestigious David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation’s Wildlife Artist of the Year competition.

As a finalist, her sculpture will be displayed throughout the exhibition in The Mall Galleries in London and her work will vie for the £10,000 top prize.

“It was quite an accolade to get into the David Shepherd Wildlife competition,” said Susan, who currently combines her art work with working part-time at Engelberg Nursery at Low Fulney.

“I am not expecting to win it because there is some tremendous work there and it is an international competition.”

Susan will find out on Monday whether her hyenas have won a prize, and the public will be able to view all the finalists’ work from Tuesday until Saturday, July 2.

Her love of animals prompted Susan to work first as a veterinary nurse, and then on a farm, with hunting horses, before going into horticulture.

When her son Jack – currently enjoying a gap year in Australia – was in primary school at Moulton, Susan joined an art class starting in the village community centre.

That led to a watercolour flower painting course with Beverley Wells at the Lincolnshire Gallery, and then to a life drawing course at Stamford College.

A one-year art foundation course followed before a degree course in Bolton.

Susan was able to juggle her studies with looking after Jack, at Spalding Grammar School by this stage, and continuing to work at the nursery.

By her final year, Susan was focusing on ceramics and joined a five-day course run by animal ceramic sculptor Brendan Hesmondhalgh.

Susan says: “That was a defining moment. I always wanted to do animal sculpture, but didn’t know how. He was a marvellous teacher.”

Susan was invited to complete her final piece for the degree in his studio at Holmfirth – and she is still there, but in her own studio now, a space in a large mill.

Susan says: “Ten of us share kilns so I still go up there three or four days every week and three days a week I am down here working, so my sculpture is a glorified hobby and the work in the nursery pays for me to do it.”

That will change later in the summer when Susan retires from the nursery and plans to work even harder – at getting her sculptures better known.